Saturday, August 30, 2008

Shame On America Sunday: Housing Edition

As I said last week, I don't like to get too serious or too political on my blogs. But the people who are supposed to be serious and political and take on weighty issues are too busy debating... nothing. Fiddling while Rome burns. So until America lives up to its promise and takes care of everyone and makes sure that everyone enjoys basic human dignity and comfort, I am devoting every Sunday to Shame On America Sunday.

I may have erred slightly in taking on Barack Obama in the first Shame On America Sunday, as people thought it was a political attack.

It was not; it was an attack on a rich man who was using money to do rich man things while poor people suffered. My point about Same Ol' Obama is that he spent millions to have a fancy party for his supporters, while people like the Shaws have to pay for medical care for their kids out of their own pockets.

I stand by that; if Same Ol' Obama really wanted to make a difference, he'd have invited Ryan and Angie Shaw onto that stage, and promised the world that they and everyone like them, within four years, would never ever have to wonder whether they should take their babies to the doctor or buy them groceries.

But it was not a political attack; Obama at least has a plan to provide health insurance -- necessary to secure health care, which is a basic human right on par with "life" and "liberty"-- to the country. We'll see if he can do it. I hope he can.

In the meanwhile, Shame On America Sunday will continue my mission to point out the awful inequities of American life, where for some reason most people (not me) celebrate the rich and enjoy the way the rich waste money while the rest of us must struggle to pay school fees and put food on the table. America is the richest, best country in the history of the world, but it is failing and people are letting it fail, and that should not be.

We should not allow people to have more than they ever need in their life. We should not allow people to thoughtlessly squander, on excessive boorish luxuries, money, spending on one tiny item enough money to support someone for their whole life.

We should, in short, not allow someone like David Saperstein or Susan Saperstein to behave the way David Saperstein and Susan Saperstein do.

David and Susan Saperstein are rich people who want you to know who rich they are; they are rich people who will waste more money in a day than I will make in a year.

Let's take Susan first: Susan Saperstein was described once, by Vanity Fair -- and if you read Vanity Fair you are part of the problem I'm trying to fight -- as "probably the world's No 1 consumer of haute couture and 18th century furniture." (Source)

As though that were a good thing. For those of you wondering what haute couture is, it means "things that cost more than most people make in a year and which will be worn once, if at all, by a foolish and selfish person."

Susan Saperstein married a rich man. She didn't do anything to help him earn that wealth, but she sure knew how to spend it: while they were married Susan (whose name is spelled Suzanne in some reports) owned several horses and would fly to Europe on the couple's private jet for "shows and fittings." (Source.) She flew a private jet to Europe to try on clothing.

It seems fitting that she was served with divorce papers on that private jet. It didn't matter; when she was divorced, she got a staggering sum of money -- including an obscenely gauche house that is an insult to anyone who goes to work every day, a house that she put on the market for $125,000,000.

David Saperstein is no better: when he was still living in the $125,000,000 house with his then-wife and the nanny he left her for (according to some reports), he said he and his family were just like anyone else, trying to put bread on the table. That's not just disingenous; that's rude to people who really do try to put bread on the table. David Saperstein started out with not much and grew it to a great deal. That's to his credit. He then not only forgot what he came from, he decided to actively insult the type of people he used to be by claiming that, as someone with a $125,000,000 house, he was "trying" to put bread on the table.

The table that David Saperstein was trying to put bread on was a table located in a 45,000 square foot house. That is roughly twenty times the size of the average house in my community. David Saperstein is so (self) important that he needs 20 times the space you or I do.

That's a lot of space, you're thinking, and you're right. But he needs more, because the $125,000,000 house is not his only house; he also built the "Hummingbird Nest Ranch," which has 140 acres of extreme disdain for other people and excessive displays of wealth spread across the Simi Valley.

Want to know more about the kinds of tables David Saperstein was just trying to put bread on? I'd like to tell you, but there's precious little information on the kinds of tables the Sapersteins bought as a furniture-based substitute for just spitting on people; buying furniture is a good substitute for spitting on people because society would frown on them if they actually thumbed their noses at us, but applauds them for garish displays of excess that are the functional equivalent of that. Remember that: physically spitting on people = bad. Metaphorically spitting on people by spending obscene amounts of money = good.


So while we don't know much about the tables, there are other details you can get about the Sapersteins' life and how they metaphorically are spitting on you.

One blog describes the $125,000,000 home, incorrectly, as "extravagant" and "sumptuous." The actual words you are looking for, blogger, is "insulting" and "wasteful." (We would also have accepted "deserving of a special circle of Hell, if there is justice in the universe.")

Here are those details:

It has Italian marble walls, Saperstein_mansionFrench limestone floors, gold-embossed leather wall coverings, and gold-leaf crowned moldings, according to the property listing. Rooms include a ballroom with ceiling frescoes, a library with a first-edition book collection, two kitchens and a screening room with seating for 50. A pool house has a full kitchen, a massage room and a gym. Also on the property: a three-bedroom manager’s house, staff quarters for 10, a nine-car garage and a ¾-mile jogging track

(Source.)

I am glad to know that the Sapersteins, whose disdain for the rest of us knows no bounds, did not have to actually walk all the way from their pool house to the main house to get a meal. I would wonder how I survived without a kitchen in my pool house, except that I don't have a pool house. If I want to swim, I have to go to the community pool or the one at my health club. We take one of the cars from our two-car garage. Sometimes we also drive them to the library, where I check out books. I'm not sure if they are first edition books; I take them to read them, not to flaunt them in people's faces like the Sapersteins.

Flaunt they do. Do you know why you have marble imported from Italy? So you can say "That marble is imported from Italy." So that you can be a smug, overspending loser with no concept of value. Marble is marble. Nobody even knows it's marble, let alone that it's from Italy, until you tell them, right, David Saperstein? And you do tell them, don't you, David Saperstein. Jerk.

One person who won't be touring David Saperstein's monument to his own lack of concern or compassion about the human race is Debbie Aurelio. Debbie Aurelio lives in Hawaii, a state that I usually use as a synonym for paradise. It's not paradise for Debbie Aurelio, though. Debbie was trying to refinance her house and got taken by a scam artist. She learned, too late, that she no longer owned her own home.

Debbie's home shares something in common with David Sapersteins: both houses have a carport. Debbie doesn't have a massage room, which is too bad because she could probably use a break from the stress of trying to fight to save her house. After realizing that she'd been bamboozled and no longer owned her house, that con artists had the title to her house and her equity, Debbie tried to hire a lawyer.

And failed.

Debbie couldn't come up with the thousands that lawyers wanted to represent her to try to save their house.

She finally had to turn to her local Legal Aid Society for help; they were able to represent her and have so far kept her from being evicted. They're suing, but Legal Aid Societies are stretched thin because they rely on funding from the government -- the government that is made up of the people, the government of the people, by the people, and for the people-- and the government of the people doesn't give the people much help.

The Legal Aid Society helping Debbie gets annual funding of $810,000 -- down 47% since 1992 -- from the State. Funding has dropped by more than 1/2 since 1980. So as wealth increases and profits increase and the Gross Domestic Product increases, we the people reduce legal aid to poor people like Debbie.

That $810,000 had to go to handle more than 8000 cases in a single year. That means Legal Aid gets about a hundred bucks a case to handle each claim.

The Sapersteins main house was marketed for $125,000,000. Let's do some math here. Since nobody should ever have a home worth more than $500,000 (I'll adjust that for inflation as time goes on) that means the Sapersteins had $124,500,000 in excess money tied up in their home. They were squandering $124,500,000 in money, just sitting on it with their Italian marble and theater and kitchen in their pool house. Sitting on it and believing they were better than you or me, or anyone else.

Debbie had equity of $160,000 in her house at the time of the scam. That means the Sapersteins, had they bought a $500,000 house, could have bought Debbie Aurelio her entire house and given it to her, as a gift, and left themselves with $124,340,000.

They would never have missed the $160,000.

They in fact could have bought themselves a $500,000 house, and then bought $160,000 houses for 778 Debbie Aurelios. Seven hundred and seventy eight families could have had houses, leaving the Sapersteins living in a house worth a half-million, and with money left over.

The Sapersteins, of course, did not buy 778 families a house. They bought themselves several houses, instead, houses with Italian marble and kitchens in the pool house and guest quarters to invite all their wealthy friends over to enjoy the finer things in life, people they would no doubt invite over and say "See that? It's Italian marble."

Debbie Aurelio's family, in their far more modest house, likes to have people over, too. They had a party for her youngest son to celebrate his first birthday. One of the people who showed up wasn't invited. He was a sheriff, serving them an eviction notice.

Shame on you, Sapersteins, and Shame on America, for letting you live in a $125,000,000 house while Debbie Saperstein has to take time out from baking a cake for her son on his birthday to be handed an eviction notice. Shame on you.


The Trouble With Roy firmly believes that no adult should be allowed to earn more than $200,000 per year; that a $500,000 house is more than enough for anyone, and that health care is a basic human right. And if you believe otherwise, you are part of the problem.

Go-Bama!

Were you bowled over by Barack Obama's acceptance speech? Have you always loved him or just begun loving him? And are you looking for a way to tell people how much you support Obama? I've got just the thing for you:Giant Obama Bumper Stickers

These are seriously giant stickers; they go in your window, actually, and not on your bumper. They're made of the same kind of thing you see on buses - -so you can post your Giant Obama Bumper Sticker onto your window and spread the word (that word being "OBAMA") in style, while still seeing where you're going.

That last part is very important, you know; we can't have a bunch of Obama supporters smacking their cars into parking meters and trees. Bad for the image.

The people that make the Giant Obama Bumper Stickers like to say that the stickers are so big, even an old, half-blind Republican can't miss 'em -- which means that John McCain will be sure to notice your support.

Now is our time... to show the support you have for Obama. Change We Can Believe In can be expressed through Giant Bumper Stickers we can see for miles. And the promise of America is just around the bend -- and it'll get here sooner if you show your support with your Giant Obama Bumper Sticker.

Header4

Sponsored by Giant Obama Window Graphics

Friday, August 29, 2008

So I went out and found myself a guy that's so much wiser.

Welcome to The Best of Everything!

New today: What are the top 5 decades ever in human existence? Not the 1960s -- as I explain when I detail the only significant thing about the 1960s in "The Best Groovy Instrument."



Then: also kind of new:

Some bright i
deas will probably destroy the human race. Other ideas will save the world and make us all happy and involve songs by Spoon and songs about Lions. Guess which idea I had. (Hint: the good one!)

Featured best: I don't usually do lists and countdowns -- I leave that to other, lesser sites, but I made an exception when I counted down The 7 Best Battles Between Good And Evil -- en route to picking The Best Showdown Between Good & Evil!

Personal Loans can help you through the tough times.

The hard economic times eventually will let up (they always do) but that's no consolation to people who have found gas prices and food prices and higher mortgage payments crunching their finances, and forcing them sometimes to choose between groceries and car repairs, or car repairs and medical bills, or so on.

You don't have to choose between two necessities, though. You could go and try for loans online from Personal Loans Leader. Personal Loans Leader is a national service that offers personal loans to people to hel get them through some temporary tough times.

So if you're experiencing some difficult times, look into getting a Personal Loan from Personal Loans Leader. They can lend you up to $15,000 and they have programs for people of all credit types, so don't think just because you're on the wrong end of the credit stick that you're out in the cold.

The Best Groovy Instrument


I frequently disparage the 1960s, and for good reason: the 1960s have been overrated by the media for, well, for 48 years now; people started thinking the 1960s were supersignificant pretty much as soon as they started, and it's continued unabated ever since then. They've done that, thinking the 1960s were hyperimportant, even though in reality, the 1960s were not even in the top 5 decades of all time.

The top 5 decades of all time, from 10-1, would have to be:

5. 1860-1869: Lincoln, the Civil War, freeing the slaves, the beginning (I think) of "Manifest Destiny"... a very important decade.

4. 1490-1499: Columbus sailed the ocean blue, right? He discovered the New World in this decade. Now, granted, it was (as Douglas Adams might have Dirk Gently point out) just sitting there waiting to be discovered, and there were indigenous people who think they discovered it, and it had been discovered a couple of times before, too, but remembering all those things makes Americans uncomfortable and is hard, whereas ignoring all of those considerations is easy, and if we ignore all of those considerations, then Columbus discovered the New World!

3. 1780-1789: Not for the reasons you think. Yes, the United States won its independence from England in this decade and we made the Constitution, but what's really significant about the decade is that we created not one but two entire governments in just a few short years. Think about that and marvel at how smart and motivated and free from television influences our forefathers were: two governments in a couple years? Nowadays, we can't nominate someone to run the government we already have in that amount of time.


2. 720-729: You don't think this is important, but you didn't live then and never paid attention in history, so who are you to question me?

1. The very first decade of human existence. How could any decade, let alone the 1960s, top this for significance? Every really important development in human existence: walking upright, thinking, existing, occurred in this decade. Plus, it didn't have dumb fashions.

Compared to those, what did the 1960s have? A bunch of baby boomers who by sheer numbers would overwhelm everyone into thinking that everything they ever did was great. Now, granted, every generation thinks that everything that generation did was great, but that's just not the case. What has "Generation Y" ever done? Given us Nirvana and grunge and a new Madden NFL game every year? Big whoop. Generation X's sole contribution is the name "Generation X," which everyone misapplies to the wrong people anyway.

So every generation thinks that everything it's done is really significant and neat and great, and every generation except the ones who fought in world wars is wrong about that. Especially wrong about that are the Baby Boomers, who not only think that everything they've ever done is great, they think that everything they think about everything they've done is great.

I'm not kidding about that, either. In Entertainment Weekly, a while back, some Baby Boomer was able to print a list of all the movies he'd ever seen. He's been keeping that list since he began seeing movies, for some reason, and then he just printed it. No real explanations, no explication, nothing. Just a list. Suddenly, just existing is awesome, if you're a Baby Boomer.

Baby boomers get away with this because they make up 98% of our population, so they can force the rest of us to constantly hear the same three Rolling Stones songs on the radio (Fun fact: did you know the Stones made songs after the 1960s? They did! I looked it up!) and then force us to watch Imax movies about the Rolling Stones playing those songs, and, I expect, they will at some point force us to read a list of all the Rolling Stones songs they've ever heard. At least it will be a short list-- just those three songs.

When you make up 98% of something, you control that thing. Baby boomers have the money, and people who have things to sell need to sell it to the Boomers, which means using those three Stones' songs and letting the Boomers publish lists of things they ate in the 1960s (mostly marijuana brownies, as far as I can tell). Baby boomers grew up in the 1960s, and love hearing how great the 1960s were, so everyone keeps focusing on how great the 1960s were, and nobody ever stops to say wait a minute the 1960s weren't all that great after all.


Before you protest and say what about The Bay of Pigs and the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam and blah blah blah pleh the 1960s was really significant, let me just say this:

Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson didn't compete in the 1960s. Brown v. Board of Education wasn't decided in the 1960s. The Underground Railroad wasn't still running in the 1960s. The 1960s was part of the process of Civil Rights, not the be-all and end-all of it. For all the good the Civil Rights movement did (and it did a lot), it was this current decade that finally saw an African-American nominated for President by a major party.

And the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam? That's a claim to significance? I suppose the arms race of the 1980s was nothing. Or Korea ,World War II, World War I, the Mexican-American War, The Civil War, and the War of 1812, to name a few, were nothing.

So, let's get that out of our system. The 1960s was not all that important, as a decade.

Which is not to say that the 1960s didn't make some contributions to our culture, one of which was good, and that one good contribution made by the 1960s was The Best Groovy Instrument: the synthesizer used in "96 Tears" by "? and the Mysterians."


I'd like to tell you the exact instrument, but I can't -- because like the band's name and lead singer itself, there is some mystery about the exact instrument that was used. Let me quote from a site I found through my usual exhaustive research techniques (googling "what was the synthesizer they used in 96 tears?");

"96 Tears"/Question Mark and the Mysterians: This one has typically been thought to be a Farfisa Combo Compact, but there's been quite a bit of discussion and disagreement about it, with much of the available evidence actually pointing to a Vox Continental as the more likely instrument, including several photos and live appearances with the Vox. According to "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits", regarding "96 Tears": “One of the song’s attributes that has merited attention the past two decades has been its acclaimed use of the Farfisa organ. It was a surprise, then, when Martinez (Lead singer/songwriter Rudy Martinez), revealed in a 1982 Goldmine interview with Jeff Tamarkin that the group used a Vox organ, not a Farfisa” . The Rolling Stone "Encyclopedia of Rock&Roll" also attributes it to a Vox, also mentioning the common assumption that it was a Farfisa. However, our friend Eric from Boss Guitars apparently spoke to Lavern, the band's manager, in 1997, and this is what he said: "Not many people know this, but the organ used mostly on the bands first album "96 tears" was a big Lowery organ. Not a combo organ. Live they'd usually use a Vox continental or a Combo Compact Farfisa." Exactly what model Lowery he didn't know. So score one more for the venerable Lowrey home organ.


Another mystery to ponder: Record labels frequently insist, when they sign a group, that one person be singled out in case the group later breaks up; if they do break up, the record company can still promote the individual singer instead of having to rebuild a whole career. That's why "Edie Brickell & New Bohemians" weren't just "The New Bohemians" when they signed with a major label -- so that if the New Bohemians broke up, Edie Brickell could continue her pop career and the record label wouldn't have wasted all taht time and promotional effort.

So, with that in mind, consider whether a record label exec, in the 1960s, thought well, if they break up, we can always just focus on promoting "?" without The Mysterians.

Leave aside all the questions and controversy about the instrument, though, and just focus on the music. Listening to that song, there is no denying it: that synthesizer is the epitome of groovy. It is swingin', hip, psychedelic, grooving. It is the 1960s, or should be; I've said before that as time marches on and crunches down history like a metaphorical Langolier (or maybe like a literal Langolier; I'm not very clear on whether a fictional concept would be literal or metaphorical if it actually existed), as time does that, we remember less and less of the previous years, so that eventually the developments encompassed by whole centuries can be summarized in just two words ("Magna Carta,") and as time marches on and rolls over the 1960s, we will (hopefully) be thankfully released from the tedium of lists of movies the boomers have watched, and left solely with the one memory of the 1960s that deserves to survive: the synthesizer in "96 Tears," as The Best Groovy Instrument.



Is "Excellent Super Great" really a credit rating?

Got a little extra time at work today? Of course you do. So why not use that extra time toApply for a Credit Card over at CardHub? It's so easy and quick to do, you're boss will never know -- and you could improve your credit rating and get a new credit card before you head home today.

Here's what you do: Click that link. (Not YET! Read the rest of the directions first!). It'll take you to CardHub. Down the left side, you'll see a couple of categories asking you about your credit rating and what's important to you. Click the correct answers and Viola!--

Yes, I know it's Voila, I was making a little joke there--

You've got a selection of cards.

So I did that, and I checked "Excellent Super Great Credit Rating," then individual cards, then rewards, then that I wanted a Visa (it's everywhere I want to be!), and got a bunch of cards to choose from, and by clicking on the one I liked, I not only got information about that card in particular, (which for me was the Capital One Platinum but I could apply for it right away online there.

All while the Boss thinks I'm "working." Easy to choose, easy to apply, that's Cardhub.

I would be a bat and come swooping after you.

Welcome to The Best of Everything!

New today: Some bright ideas will probably destroy the human race. Other ideas will save the world and make us all happy and involve songs by Spoon and songs about Lions. Guess which idea I had. (Hint: the good one!)



Featured Best: I'm writing a novel that's titled with a line from the poem; it's mentioned on Babies! Babies! Pets! Pets! today to wrap up "August Is Poetry Month," and it's completely ungrammatical. But, oh, how it sings! Read The Best Poem.

Newest best: Alas, poor Lenin, we hardly knew ye. Miss the days of bomb shelters, Red Scares, and the "Domino theory?" They don't make fake media scares like they used to. But I point out how to fix that in The Best Media Scare That Turned Out To Be Not That Big A Deal.



When they develop head transplants, I've got dibs on George Clooney.

Sometimes, little changes make a big difference. People considering how they could improve their appearance should keep that maxim in mind.

Say you are an almost-40-year-old part-time blogger and you're looking int he mirror in the morning and thinking "That can't really be my face, can it? When did I get so... pleh?" So you resolve to do something about it, but what? Do you really want to go in for full-fledged plastic surgery, a face lift or butt lift or head transplant?

Or could you do something a little less drastic, like, say,blepharoplasty, eyelid surgery.

Belpharoplasty, or upper eyelid surgery, is done a lot more than people realize, and is undergone by both men and women. In the procedure, the surgeon removes loose skin, or fatty deposits, around the upper eyes, to target and fix such problems as having an excess amount of skin or puffy eyelid areas.

It's actually done a lot in connection with other procedures, too, so you don't have to limit yourself to that area of your face if you're looking to tighten things up and make a change.

So if you are that almost-40 blogger and you thought your face looked a little swollen or droopy this morning, you could always just get blepharoplasty (it's fun to say!) and improve your appearance a little. But if you DID want to do that, you'd be careful choosing your surgeon because it IS surgery, you know, and you want to make sure you get someone qualified. So you'd probably go over to IEnhance to find out more about the procedure and get all the information you need to make an informed choice.

With that information, you'd rule out "head transplant" as an option, and maybe just go ahead and improve your appearance with the help of a skilled doctor. And then the face you see in the mirror would be the one you want to see!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Don't you want to read "Velociraptors, My Butt?"

Way back when, I wrote the second-most-controversial thing I've ever said about anything, in an essay titled "Velociraptors, My Butt." You can't find that on the Internet anymore, but you can get it in my book of essays,


Thinking The Lions, and 117* Other Ways To Look At Life (*Give Or Take)



The book ss available for purchase through Lulu.com; get to it right away by clicking here.

Plus, for just two more days, I'm having a contest. Click that link (or this one), to see the picture on the front cover of the book, and then come up with a caption for the cover photo (Note: The photo on this entry is not the cover photo, so don't try to take the easy way out!)

The winner will have their caption promoted on each and every one of my blogs, plus will win a free copy of the book!

To submit your caption, leave it as a comment here, or email it to me at

"thetroublewithroy[at]yahoo.com"

(You know the drill -- put in "@" for the bracketed stuff!)

Contest ends August 31!

No offense, ordinary schmoes.

Hey, listen up, people who need a home to live in or have a home to sell -- which is ALL of you, so listen up, ALL of you. Do you want to buy or sell your house using some ordinary schmoe who happened into real estate as a career because law school was too expensive and car mechanic's school was too greasy?

Or do you want to buy or sell your house with the help of realtors who have over 20 years' experience in the field, who are part of the exclusive "100% club," who have been named "Rookie of the Year" in real estate, and who have the expertise, background, education, and devotion to make sure that you get exactly the home, and exactly the price, you want?

That's not a real question; it's rhetorical; of course you want the latter. That's why you want The Meglio Macklin Group. The Meglio Macklin Group is primarily a husband-wife team of incredible realtors whose passion in life is homes -- selling homes, putting people into homes, making sure that everyone involved in a home sale is happy, if it has something to do with that, they love it and do it well.

They work out of Arizona, mostly in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area, but reviewing their site and credentials, I wish they worked where I live, too, because my own experiences dealing with realtors have been such a mixed bag -- mostly from the bad mix. I don't want to name names, but I will say that nobody I worked with when buying or selling homes ever was even in the running for "Rookie of the Year," let alone any other awards.

The Meglio Macklin Group is there just waiting for you to call them; they've got listings right now for golf course homes in Arizona, alongside plenty of other properties. So look 'em up and get your dream house today.

Read Temporary Anne: Famished.


Done with all the stuff on here? Why not go check out Temporary Anne: Famished on AfterDark: The Scariest Things, You CAN'T Imagine.

Here's an excerpt:
*****************************

Mephistopheles was gone. The minions were gone.

The garden, previously green at the end of summer and lush with leaves and grass and bushes and shrubs and trees, was bare and sparse. There was no grass. There were no leaves. The trees were stripped bare and dark. The flowers gone. It was not as if there had been a fire; it was if the ground could not support living things and yet someone had tried to plant things there.

In my life, when I was a young girl, people looked at the moon and wondered what lived there. Later, as a woman, caught up in my own trespasses against others, I never gave it much thought, but learned men discussed the moon being airless and lifeless. The garden looked as though it was planted on the sort of moon these men had discussed, in the times when they would discuss things; those times were always before they met me.

After they met me, they spent much of their time wishing they had not and bemoaning their fate. My evil knew no bounds. The simple evils, yes: treachery and adultery and theft and torture. But there were psychic evils that I inflicted on them: belittling their manhood. Making them do things that would keep them awake at night questioning their own morality. Feeding them food that animals would refuse to eat, and then telling them what I had done. My spirit has always been a slow-acting poison directed a humankind.



Read "Temporary Anne: Famished" from the beginning by clicking here.

Moving made easy.

I don't know about you, but I don't like people touching my stuff. It's my stuff and I worry about it. That's one reason why I've never hired movers: the thought of strangers tramping around in my house, picking up my things, trying on my clothes... well, maybe they do... leaves me all clammy. I just don't think they'd be careful with my things and I don't want to have all my stuff broken or lost or stolen.

Then again, I'm also not a truck driver; I don't even like driving our SUV, and I always end up driving moving trucks through residential neighborhoods, trying to back it up, caught in traffic, and worrying about hitting someone or smacking up the truck.

I can get around both of those phobias through using ABF U-Pack Moving. With ABF U-Pack Moving, I pack up the stuff, they drive it there. They'll bring me a trailer or moving container. I pack my stuff into it, and ABF then takes it to my new location, where I can unpack it.

ABF gives me door to door storage and door to door moving, without the worry of driving a big truck or getting my stuff stolen. Perfect!

A Closer Look At... The Best Part of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Sometimes I just hit on a universal truth and don't realize it right away. I did just that when I wrote about "The Best Part of The Lion Sleeps Tonight," a song I have a bit of an obsession with. (But can you blame me? You can? Never mind, then.)

I noted, then, that The Best Part was the part where they go Oh, oh, a part I figured was The Best because everyone who hears that song playing sings that part; I extrapolated from that -- yes, I said extrapolated. Just because I make up words frequently doesn't mean I don't know real words, too-- I extrapolated from the fact that everyone who hears that song sings that part, that we could if we got everyone in the world to sing that part, accomplish something.

I wasn't sure then, what would be accomplished, but I was sure it would accomplish something. More than would be accomplished by "World Jump Day," anyway, and more productive. "World Jump Day" has the downside of potentially knocking the world completely out of its orbit and sending us spinning through space, farther and farther from the sun, until the Earth is a cold husk with only the remnants of a few species living here, species that have been able to dig down into the crust and live on the warmth that radiates from the core of the earth, still boiling away, species that dream of the day when another star will capture us and we will begin to orbit it and once again can live on the surface...

... this would be an awesome science fiction novel and it is mine...

whereas "World Singing Oh Oh! From The Lion Sleeps Tonight Day" could only have good results, results that would be great for humanity (although bad for potential sci-fi books.)

Anyway, here's what reminded me of this, and of my genius in hitting on universal truths, and set me off on this musing. Today, on my way into work, I was listening to Spoon's Take The Fifth, and they've got something similar going on that made me, and still makes me, sing Oh! when it comes on.



And I sang along with those parts, (I'll take the fifth, I'll take the fifth-oh!) and got happier. So there's the universal truth: Put a little oh! into your music and the world is a little better place.

Related posts: I mentioned before that British bands are better at putting nonsense words into songs, and focused on The Lion Sleeps Tonight for an entire week, including a mention of the REM version.


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Feel and look as good as you can.

There are limits to what human beings can do. We can diet and exercise and eat sensibly and get up off of the couch once in a while, but even if we do all that, we may find that there are those areas of our body where the fat just doesn't go away.

That can be discouraging and can interfere with continued efforts to get healthy and stay healthy. If you run every day for a year and watch what you eat and at the end of the year, you've still got a spare tire or saddlebags, you might just give up.

Where human effort leaves off, medical science can take over. Instead of quitting, try this: get liposuction and then move on.

Liposuction can be done quickly and conveniently and very safely these days, and can remove areas of fat that are stubbornly resisting all your efforts to get rid of them.

It's not a permanent fix; removing the fat via liposuction doesn't mean it won't come back; but it does mean you can keep it from coming back by continuing to live healthy, and you won't have to suffer the disappointment and discouragement that it's been causing you.

Liposuction is surgery, so make sure you pick someone qualified and licensed and with experience, someone like Dr. Daniel Sterling, M.D., a doctor since 1996 who graduated med school with honors and has won awards for clinical and research activities. Dr. Sterling practices at The Plastic Surgery Center, which has been in business for 36 years now.

There's more surgeons and doctors at The Plastic Surgery Center; I just picked out Dr. Sterling as one of the many qualified physicians there, physicians who for three and a half decades have been helping people reduce physical imperfections, improve their appearance, and gain or regain the self-confidence that comes with knowing they don't just feel their best, but they look their best, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Showdown September?


What is Showdown September? You'll find out in just a few short days. Until then, keep on reading and feel free to submit your own Bests!

And don't forget to check out the other blogs, like "Thinking The Lions," now featuring "Brothers In Harms," the most hilarious story you'll ever read about learning to drive.

No nonsense: just the medical supplies you need at good prices.

At JRS Medical, Inc., you can get over 15,000 medical supplies, made by more than 300 different companies, at a discount. JRS Medical is here to provide customers like you a better selection of medical supplies at a better price. They sell everything from diabetic pen wallets to an invacare hernia belt all available through their website at prices that are hard to beat -- if they can be beat at all, which I doubt.

They even have a medical supply blog to tell you more about the products, so you don't have to guess at whether they're the right ones for you.

Still have questions? They've got a great staff that will treat you with courtesy and give you the benefit of their knowledge. They're also a licensed pharmacy distributor, which lets them sell products that a lot of places can't.

Update on a Closer Look At The Best Number.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was happy to see that XKCD shared my love of imaginary numbers, but sad to see that XKCD was smarter than me. I also promised a copy of the comic strip that prompted all that thinking, a strip I couldn't post yesterday because it was on my "work" computer.

Now that I'm at my office "working," here it is:

The Best Media Scare That Turned Out To Be Not That Big Of A Deal.

It's been a long time since we had a good media scare, a long time since the reporters and anchors and newspapers and even magazines, which are still around (there's today's Fun Fact: Did you know that people still read magazines? It's true!) got all whipped up into a froth about something that turned out to be, in the end, really nothing at all.

Looking back at the first 2/3 of 2008, what've we got so far? Airplanes held together by duct tape? Yawn. Chinese pollution? Big deal; because of the international date line, China exists in the future so we'll worry about that when it arrives. Forest fires? The Little League world series got higher ratings. Rainbow parties? I saw that one as a fake the moment I heard about it. (Apparently, there are two ways to make a lot of money as a writer these days: write stories that teenage girls but nobody else love; or write stories about teenage girls thinking they're in love.)

We are a long, long way from the great media scares of the past. Those had everything. They had celebrities and common place items and horrified parents who were only to glad to hand their jobs off to the government, and even the end of the world. What could be more fake-scary than that? These modern-day overhyped media scares just don't measure up, and television -- and life -- is the more boring for it.

Because what good is living if it isn't done in the shadow of the cloud of fear? What good is having children if we can't worry that forces beyond our control, or at least forces that we're too lazy to try to control, are wrecking our kids and dooming them to lives of sloth and degeneracy? How can we taste of the sweet and spicy nectar of life if the salty and sour rind of terror is not also on our plate?

Okay, I'm sorry. That was really the worst metaphor ever and it should be removed from this blog. It should be buried in one of those caves where the government is sticking nuclear waste in barrels that aren't tightly closed so that the waste is leeching down into the groundwater, spreading out through the aquifer and eventually going to damage all of our chromosomes so badly that we'll end up being extras in one of those SciFi channel movies.

Not scared? Sorry. I tried. Maybe I should have instead used subliminal advertising, just like networks are doing to get you to watch their shows, slowly eroding your will...

Apparently, it's not that easy to whip up a fake media scare. So I've gone over great media scares of the past (en route to choosing The Best one) to determine just what made them so great, and doing that has allowed me to discern what it takes to make a great fake media scare. So, to help me out in creating one (and to keep me from being tempted to try to create more metaphors), and to help others out -- Katie Couric, this could be just the ticket you need to stay on the job--


Katie Couric is still on the job, right? Does anyone watch CBS? Nobody? Okay. Well, Katie Couric, if you're still on the job, then this is just the ticket for you to keep your job. If you're still on the job, how about going freelance and whipping up a media scare using these Guidelines for Whipping Up A Media Scare:

1. It's got to involve an everyday object that we otherwise would not fear. This is something that fake media scares share with urban legends, and is probably the most important thing. China, California, teenage girls: these are not everyday objects that most of us run into in our lives and so we're not scared by things that they do or that happen to them. Cactuses, apples, bees -- these are things that are all around us and affect our everyday lives. So the scorpions in the cactus becomes a great urban legend; they sell those things at Wal-Mart, for Pete's sake! "Alar" in apples -- that was a great one because everyone knows what an apple is; it's a part of our culture: apples for the teacher, "an apple a day," apple pie. So if our apples are being poisoned, that hits us where it hurts.

Or take killer bees: that was genius. Bees already hurt when they sting us, and we're all secretly terrified of bees even though it only hurts for, like, an hour. But make bees be killer bees, and then we've got a reason to be scared of them and act like ninnies when a bee comes near us, jumping up and spilling our potato salad onto the lawn and running around waving our arms*

*this is not based on anyone's real behavior.

and saying "Bee! Bee!".

That, then, brings up the second guideline (take this down, Katie.)

2. It's got to try to get us to do what we wanted to do anyway. The closest we've come to a big media scare in the past couple of years was the news that spinach was killing people. That wasn't a big media scare after all, because who eats spinach? Nobody. Nobody really eats spinach. It's disgusting. It might have been scary if spinach was actually killing people -- going around all stringy and slimy and wet and choking people in their sleep (which will probably be the plot of The Happening 2: Happenin' Boogaloo) but as it was, the spinach scare affected nobody because nobody eats spinach.

Apples, poisonous apples, were a different story, because they are a cute, okay tasting fruit that we would eat if we ever actually ate fruit. We don't eat fruit, though. We say we want to eat fruit, but we don't; BBQ Fritos, according to one source (me) outsell apples by a ratio of 300,000,000 to 1. Don't believe me? When was the last time you went into a store and saw that they were out of apples? Never. They're never out of apples. But they run out of BBQ Fritos all the time.

We eat apples, or other fruit, as a general rule only on two occasions: when we're starting a new diet, so we put away the BBQ Fritos and eat an apple, or when we're trying to convince our kids that fruit can be every bit as good as a potato chip, so we eat an apple and they scoff and go off to play video games that we can't master.

That's why a scare involving apples or similar fruit is genius. It lets us say Did you hear Tom Brokaw say that the president of France was nearly poisoned by an apple? I'd like to have one, but I can't risk it. Pass the BBQ Fritos, please.

The mention of teenagers brings up the next point, which is:

3. It has to apply to someone else, and preferably to our kids. Changing our behavior is both hard and unnecessary; we're perfect as is, maybe we could drop a few pounds, but who can eat healthy with all the poisoned apples, so really, we're okay.

But other people? They need a lot of help. I'm looking at you -- and you're looking at me. We all know what's best for everyone else, and a media scare that lets us change others is perfect for our need to make others as perfect (well, almost as perfect) as we are.

Teenagers are the best target for this, especially other people's teenagers. That's why some of the greatest media scares have involved all the damage that is being done to teenagers (or even younger kids) by other people or other people's kids.

Rock music and videogames, especially, are popular targets, because adults don't like kids' rock music or videogames. I say that as an adult (?) who grew up with rock music and videogames: I don't like my kids' rock music and videogames. My stuff is cool; they're stuff is... well, I don't like it, so I'll just say that their stuff encourages drug use or violence or Satanic impulses or antisocial behavior.


The Matrix? Cool movie to the younger half of the population; hypnotic-irresistable-order-to-kill to the older generation, which was more comfortable with "action" that involved John Wayne sitting behind a rock popping the trigger on a six-shooter while Injuns fell off horses, sometimes even before the gunshot sounded. Grand Theft Auto? If I could play it, I'd love it. But I can't master it, so it's obviously going to teach my kids how to be gang members and needs to be banned, even though the odds of my kids becoming gang members are incredibly slim, because there simply aren't that many gangs in the suburbs of Wisconsin; with Grand Theft Auto around, my kids will inevitably become part of a gang and the Babies! toy room will end up as a crack den.

Remember, though, when applying the next big scare to our kids, don't make it about something embarrasing or gross, like their sex lives. There's no way we're talking to them about that.

Applying media scares to our kids has the added benefit of dovetailing into the next guideline, which is:

4. It has to make my life easier, not harder. Media scares in recent memory have tried to whip up a frenzy about something, but have done so in a way that makes life more difficult. Sure, I'd like to want to try to help save the environment, but that means I've got to put my soda can there instead of here, and there is almost 2 feet away and would also require that I haul two different containers to the curb each week, so... pass the BBQ Fritos. Carbon footprint? Help me reduce mine... but I don't have time to plant a tree, and I'm not supposed to be digging in the yard without calling that hotline.

Those are terrible media scares. A good media scare requires absolutely no effort on the part of anyone, and promises to reduce my workload. Are they showing too much smut on network TV? They are!? Ban it all! I don't have the time or energy to sit in the same room as my kids while they're watching TV. Predators on MySpace? Get rid of the Internet, or at least the part the kids like, because that is the only possible way to keep my kids from going on MySpace. I mean, I know I could put the computer down in the kitchen, but then they're always underfoot, and they complain a lot, so, really, it'd be easier if the government would just do something about all of this stuff.

That's why SARS and all those flus were also such good scares: they allowed us to be scared but we didn't have to actually do anything about it. Do you know how many people have died of SARS in the US to date? It must be a lot, right, because the Centers for Disease Control --

-- why is it the Centers for Disease Control? It's only one organization, and also, there can only be one center of something--

the CDC says SARS was recognized as a global threat all the way back in 2003. Of course, the CDC also says that the global outbreak was... um... over by July, 2003, too. And in the U.S., a grand total of zero people died. Only 8 people in the U.S. even caught it. That's about 0.00000002 % of the population. In 2003, you had about the same chance, if you lived in the U.S., of catching SARS or winning the Powerball.

That didn't keep everyone from being scared and wanting those facemasks and vowing not to travel to China, ever (until we did just that, this year, to watch the Olympics, forgetting all about SARS) and demanding that the government quarantine... people who might have SARS, which included both Asians and Canadians, as I recall-- which explains why Tommy Chong was so absent in 2003.

The demand for government help brings up the final guideline, which is:

5. There must be a governmental solution -- or the threat of one-- to all of this. This one is pretty much the sum total of all the others, but it's also the most important. Doing what we were going to do anyway, using everyday things, applying it to other people, making life easier -- that's the role of the government in a nutshell, right? I mean, it's been a long time since I read the Constitution, but I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers meant for the government to make it easier for me to watch TV and eat my BBQ Fritos.

A governmental solution means that we get to fret about stuff, make rules that apply to other people, and then let other people carry out the enforcement of those rules. If we don't want to do the hard work of parenting in the first place, why would we want to do the hard work of enforcing government rules about parenting? And I'd rather not have to wash that apple I'm going to eat when I start my diet tomorrow, so could we just ban the use of anything that might get on it that I would have to wash off? I'm not made of time, you know.

Sometimes, a governmental solution alone is almost enough to whip up a fake media scare -- like with the baseball-steroids issue, an issue that affected approximately 10 people in the United States, and we could tell who the affected ones because they had large heads and/or repeatedly denied sleeping with teenage country singers. That lack of impact on everyone's lives did not in any way hamper a giant governmental investigation into those 10 guys -- two of them, in fact -- and that investigation almost singlehandedly incited an entire media scare, as the media tried to turn this back on us by asking whether we, or our kids, or our dogs or our racehorses were using steroids. (Ultimately, the fledgling scare died out for two reason: nobody really cares what Roger Clemens does, and we couldn't tell if our kids/us/racehorses were on them, because we as a nation are not exactly sure what "steroids" are. I myself picture them as an adult-y version of Flintstones vitamins.)

But a governmental solution is an essential element of any good media scare -- rock music would not have been exposed as the tool of the devil that it is if not for Tipper Gore's efforts generating a congressional investigation. After all, rock music had been around corrupting kids since the 1950s, and while parents always suspected it was harmful, they never did anything about it until Congress got involved, at which point we had warning labels and there was never any harmful or terrible or sexually suggestive rock music again:



If you want your media scare to be even bigger, try to make it something that the government created in the first place, like Skylab. That adds to our healthy distrust of government while creating what we all think is a nice ironic twist: the government made this mess, now let it clean it up.

That's not actually ironic, though. We think it is, but it's not.

With all that in mind, it's time, then, to name The Best Media Scare That Turned Out To Be Not That Big Of A Deal. And that is...

Communism!

It was a good run for Communism, wasn't it? The Bolshevik Revolution, the USSR, blacklisting, Tailgunner Joe, the nuclear arms race, kids ducking under desks, Ich bin ein Berliner, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall, "Star Wars" for real...

... I'm kind of sounding like that Billy Joel song, aren't I...

for decades, the media managed to whip up a fear of communism that was never before and has not since been matched by any other fake media scare that ever existed. "Communism" -- a political philosophy which has never actually been fully implemented in any country or society or even commune ever anywhere in the history of the world -- has been responsible for destroying careers, nuclear silos proliferating across middle America, and at least two full-on wars.

Communism hit all the marks. It involved everyday objects: us. What if suddenly we were to be part of a society where everybody wasn't free to make a billion dollars and buy crappy endtables as a means of demonstrating that we're going to use our money to serve our own needs rather than actually rebuild New Orleans?

It gets us to do what we were going to do anyway: Because of "Communism" we feared sending our kids to college, lest they be turned into communists by those commie professors-- so we didn't have to save for a college fund. Communism was an excuse for a military buildup and invading countries left and right and deposing elected officials in favor of the people we liked; since "Communism" faded away, we've had to make up stuff like "Yellow Cake Uranium" to invade a country and we've had to live with guys like whoever is leading China now.

It applies to someone else, and especially our kids -- that college thing, right, plus all those foreigners and Cubans and French people. Did you know there are communists in the French Government? Let's hate them.

It makes our life lots easier. Why am I not getting ahead in life? Communists. Why am I not taking you kids on a trip to Cuba? Communists. Why do I as a President need to have a secret "black budget" item that will turn out to be M/X missiles and also to have Ollie North running his own little government? Communists. Plus, we then could live with the occasional "glitch" in our society, like the Great Depression or the S&L Bailout or the Mortgage Meltdown or the fact that Tom Cruise can spend $200,000 on a 2-year-old's birthday party, by saying sure, those are problems indicative of flaws in a purely capitalist system, but, what, do you want to be a Commie? Rather than changing society, or reviling Tom Cruise, we just say and chortle about how great it is that in our society, Leona Helmsley can leave millions to her dog and Bill Gates can own an island.

And, there is of course a governmental solution to Communism, one that "worked" in the sense that it defeated a foe that was never actually there and to the extent it existed would have crippled itself anyway; our government fought the Cold War -- a War that was Cold! For decades, we had Cuban Missile Crises and U2 planes shot down and shoe-banging and deficit spending because the government had to do something about communism. If it didn't do something, we might someday live in a world where "celebrities" were not free to spend time in a $10,000-per-night hotel room.

I'm getting a little choked up, here. It's just not the same without these great fake media scares of the past. I just can't find a reason to hate my neighbor, not leave the country, or wear 50-SPF-sunscreen in January without a good media scare. So, Katie, hoist yourself up by your strappy sandals and get on this; whip us up a scare to match Communism, The Best Media Scare That Turned Out To Be Not That Big Of A Deal.



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Monday, August 25, 2008

A closer look at... The Best Number


It's always kind of neat to find out that someone out there likes the same things as you; neat, unless, also like me, you think that liking things that are sort of obscure is neat, too, and you secretly don't want people to like the same things because you don't want to share those things with people. I am a walking catch-22 that way -- I want all the things I like to be popular because then I can share them with people and when we both like the same things, say stuff like "I know, me too, right?" but I also would prefer that most things I like be my little secret.

Most of what I like tends to fall into that latter category anyway; when you think like I do and like the things I do, there are not hordes of people out there saying I know, me too, right? about those things. Especially when those things are things like The Best Number, which is i, which is the square root of negative one -- a number I picked as The Best to celebrate hitting 10,000 readers a few years back.

Very few people, I think, share my enthusiasm for numbers that may or may not exist. That's why I was so excited to see a comic on xkcd which made reference to i, a comic that I can't find because I saved the link on my "work" computer and I'm at home now, having told my boss I was going to "work" from home.

In looking for that comic though, I then stumbled across the xkcd blog, which I bookmarked disconsolately, because I realized that although the writer of xkcd and I may share a similar love of i, he is almost certainly a lot smarter than me, and also he gets to meet Cory Doctorow. So I'll keep reading his comic, but secretly I am resentful, and someday, when we both meet and we're both wearing shirts that say i on them, and we say "I know, me too, right?" I'll probably be kind of bitter.

At least until he introduces me to Cory Doctorow. Then I'll forgive him.

As it turns out, xkcd and I also have a fascination with turn signals synching up. Here's his:


And mine can be found by clicking here.


The Best Slasher Film.


This past weekend, I did more than just point out the money to be spent on Same Ol' Obama's party this week could likely provide health care for many many people. I also came up with an insanely great idea, and an insanely stupid idea. Let me recount them for you, and we can then wait in breathless anticipation to see which one will become reality first. (Hint: It will be the stupid one.)

Here's the good idea: Personal electric cars. Have you seen those "Smart Cars," little two-seater deals that get a mocha-zillion miles to the gallon? My idea for Personal Electric Cars (which I will resist naming Personal Electric Recreational Vehicles, for acronymically-based reasons) goes them one better: Why not make cars that can hold one person, run on electricity, and have a small trunk compartment, which people could then use to get to and from local destinations without burning up a ton of fossil fuels.

It's a genius idea. I myself drive mostly by myself. Sweetie doesn't work, the kids go to school after I have to leave for "work," nobody in my office lives near me, really and we "work" different hours. So it's hard for me to carpool. It's also hard to take the bus, on account of the bus runs only one time per day to our part of the city, and that time is not the same one each day but more of a random stop, which is the way most buses work in my experience; when I was in law school and took the bus everyday, I had to catch the 8:20 bus. To do that, I had to be outside at 7:55, because the bus was sometimes nearly a 1/2 hour early and sometimes up to a 1/2 hour late. In three years, I don't recall the 8:20 bus ever coming at 8:20.

Where I live now, there's not any kind of set schedule, and on some days, there's no bus at all. Apparently, there are a great many holidays celebrated by our local bus. So the bus is out, and I have to take a car to "work," and that car holds five people and has trunk space, all of which is largely unnecessary for me to get me and my iPod and my lunch to "work."

I would get a scooter of some sort, except (a) I'm a 6'1", 230-pound (yes, through the miracle of The Baby Workout I've lost weight!) grown man, so riding a scooter is kind of silly, and (b) I live in Wisconsin, where 9 months of the year the temperature is below freezing and where we got over 100 inches of snow last year. In some places, the snow still hasn't melted, I bet. I can't ride a scooter to "work" in the middle of January when the wind chill is stuck somewhere between "-14 degrees" and "- are you kidding me? Why in God's name would grandpa settle here when he emigrated? Was Florida closed?"

So that's where Personal Electric Cars come in: I'm thinking along these lines: Take a Ford Festiva (one of the greatest cars ever built) and cut it in half; using the driver's half, put four wheels on there instead of two, seal 'er up and get rid of the trunk. Now, you've got a four-wheeled car (stable) that takes up very little room and has a little seat space for running errands and such, but which would be small enough to run off very little power, provided you're not looking to go 55 miles an hour or anything?

Why isn't this a reality yet? I know there have been other ideas for electric cars, but they all suffered from various flaws, flaws like "using too much power" or "being too expensive" or "being lame and weird looking" to "not being invented by me."

So I challenge you, America: Invent the Personal Electric Car, and give one to me as a bonus for having thought it up. I guarantee you it will be a big seller, especially if you have the people who do those adds for Apple do the adds for PECs, too, because that music can sell anything. You'll sell so much you can easily afford to give one to me.

My other idea, the bad one that will be a reality long before I'm ever cruising around in my Personal Electric Car given to me by the inventor for free, is this:

A trilogy based on the movie "Prom Night."


We watched the new "Prom Night," this weekend, Sweetie and I, on DVD. We were watching "Prom Night" because Sweetie likes slasher films, and we were watching it because more or less all Hollywood can do these days is remake old movies.

This Prom Night is not quite a remake of the old "Prom Night", starring Jamie Lee Curtis. (Jamie Lee Curtis must have been more or less the biggest star in the history of the early 1980s, judging by how often she was thrown into a movie.) I know that because Sweetie told me it was true; I never saw the first Prom Night.

In this Prom Night [SPOILER ALERT! BUT, REALLY, IS THERE A PART OF THE PLOT OF THIS MOVIE THAT YOU CANNOT GATHER FROM THE FACT THAT IT'S A SLASHER FILM CALLED 'PROM NIGHT'? THAT SORT OF GIVES IT AWAY, DOESN'T IT? STILL, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DIDN'T FIGURE IT ALL OUT YET, SPOILER ALERT] a girl's family is killed in the first few minutes by a deranged guy, and she sees it all. Then the movie jumps forward three years, to when that girl is now getting ready for her...

wait for it...

Prom Night...

...and she's all better and all over the horrifying deaths of her family except for some dreams in which she imagines the killer, who was a teacher at her school and who was obsesssed with her, has escaped and come back to get her. Her psychiatrist laughs at her and tells her instead to focus on how great prom night will be, and so she does that.

Turns out the psychiatrist was wrong. But you knew that, right?

So here's what I began thinking. First, Hollywood totally missed it. The first part of the movie takes about 2 minutes, but would in and of itself be a great movie, and I've even got a name for it: Teacher's Pet. So they should have made a movie called that, first, and released it, because that could have been marginally good (as this Prom Night was, actually) and then they could have capitalized on that by releasing this movie as "Teacher's Pet 2: Prom Night." (Catchy, right?) Then, after that, they could have another movie in two years or so in which one of the kids from Prom Night goes crazy and kills some more people, and called that one "Teacher's Pet Three: Reunion".)

So instead of one throwaway slasher film, you've got yourself a franchise here, one that could rival Scream or Friday The 13th Ad Infinitum for slasher-dom immortality, and one which avoids the big problem of all slasher films, which is this:

The killers in slasher films are totally unrealistic.

That's why I can't stand slasher films, as a general rule (although, as I said, this one was okay.) The killers in slasher films get drowned and burned and run over and dropped off of skyscrapers and burned some more and go to Hell and into space and get attacked by Freddy Krueger and they walk really slowly but still make it to Colorado where Jamie Lee Curtis now lives, and through it all they just keep on living and they don't even bleed.

Slasher films, though, are supposed to be chilling because they have an ordinary guy go bat-crap crazy and start killing people. When that guy stops being ordinary and starts being able to survive mine collapses and nuclear explosions and Predator, the slasher film stops being a slasher film and starts being a horror movie -- but a really crummy horror movie with a killer whose only supernatural power is the ability to loom menacingly and take a bullet to the chest.

Let me add that this Prom Night didn't have that; the killer in this one didn't get run into by a dirigible and survive or anything.

That, together with a couple of other good points and the lack of any very preposterous points, made this Prom Night a pretty good slasher film, but not the Best one or anything. For The Best Slasher Film, we have to go back, way back, even before olden times (2002), all the way to that glorious time known as the 80s, a time when slasher films were only just beginning to be overrun by glorified Herman Munster clones who tromped around and survived but were not very scary, before the time when slasher films had to be made with a wink and a smile and a cameo by a Hollywood starlet.

In that time, 1986, slasher films had not yet devolved to the depths that they ultimately would. Jason, for example, had not been to the Moon yet (although in 1986, he would be brought back to life by a lightning bolt striking an iron fence), but the path was clearly marked out for them; it wouldn't be long before serial killers in slasher films needed to be disintegrated by Fermilab's particle accelerator just to slow them down--

-- That never actually happened in a slasher movie, but it would make a great slasher film -- a serial killer stalks young, attractive particle physicists at a college, angry because they rejected his attempts at presenting a Unifield Theory of Everything to them, and laughed at him, and one by one he kills off his competition, until at the end, the second-hottest female physicist (Elizabeth Banks) and the nerdy male physicist student she's realized she loves (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) trap him in the particle accelerator and turn it on, blasting him into subatomic particles, and seemingly ending the threat forever...

... until they realize that what they've just done is create an infinite number of killers in an infinite number of realities, setting the stage for innumerable sequels.

I'll call it "Quantum Murder." Don't steal my idea!

In 1986, then, while slasher films were getting ready to make the jump from barely-realistic to ... well, Jason battling Freddy on the moon, a little movie came out by the name of "April Fool's Day." April Fool's Day -- The Best Slasher Film -- had a simple idea: [SPOILER ALERT! INVOLVING, YET AGAIN, A PLOT TWIST THAT IS REALLY BROADCAST BY THE FILM'S TITLE.] a bunch of friends would go away for a weekend to have sex and drink, and then get killed one by one, only to realize in the end that it was all a big April Fool's Day Joke.

By the way, shouldn't "April Fool's Day" be "April Fools' Day?" There's more than one fool, right?

"April Fool's Day" is The Best Slasher Movie for a couple of simple reasons: first, it both uses and makes fun of the ordinary conventions of slasher movies -- it's got all the typical couples and high school studs and hot chicks and trashy chicks and bookworms that are supposed to be the killer, and the remote setting and all, but it was in on the joke already; the characters were not just stereotypes, they were archetypes.

Second, nobody actually died. That's awesome: a slasher movie in which nobody was slashed. How ironic!

Third, it did all this about twenty years before "Scream" supposedly turned the genre on its head by [SPOILER ALERT THAT IS NOT GIVEN AWAY BY THE TITLE THIS TIME] having characters who know about how horror movies work, and having two killers. "Scream" was revolutionary only to those people who hadn't seen April Fool's Day; it wasn't that big of a deal to those of us who saw both and who thought, of Scream: "oh, here's a second movie that tries to turn slasher film conventions on themselves to keep the audience guessing. Clever, I guess. I'm gonna' get some popcorn."

(That's an actual quote, by the way.)

Most slasher movies start out with a pretty good idea (Look at this regular guy who started killing people. Scary, huh?) and make them insanely stupid (This guy now actually has over 722 bullets in him, is missing an arm, and is dependent upon constant electroduction to stay alive... but is still about to get Jamie Lee Curtis!).

April Fool's Day
actually did the opposite: it started with a terrible idea, and made it into a good film. It's earned a little recognition as The Best Slasher Movie (a title it will hold until Quantum Murder premieres.)






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