Episode 602

A Date With Evil

The last few months around Aarron's office had been interesting to say the least. It could be said that there was a general air of giddy anticipation preparing for the upcoming start of MST3K on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Ever since the word was out that Comedy Central and the boys at Best Brains had split, we were all pretty nervous. There was of course our initial frenzy to make sure we had all of the episodes on tape, which caused Vince a lot of heart palpitating considering the amount of movies they had lost the rights to. Then there was our desire to collect as much old MST3K stuff as we could. We spent a lot of time and energy and online time, tracking down sources of all sorts of stuff. We were quite busy . . . not a lot of real work was accomplished at GDI.

But now it's almost February and on the first, the new episodes will begin airing. We are stoked. We have eight VCR's set up on their own source of uninterruptable power, linked to the six satellite dishes that are on top of GDI HQ, just to make sure we get it on tape. We spend all day watching Sci-Fi, with the VCR's running, just to make sure we get any and all promos.

"Don't forget the web site!"

"Shut up Vince! I was getting to that!"

Anyway, until that day comes, we had to get our injection of MST. So Aarron, as always chose what episode we were going to watch.

I was, as is my like, In the La-Z-Boy Atomolounger . . . you know the chair I'm talking about. The very chair that has so powerful a soothing capacity that dentists use it instead of anesthesia when doing root canals. Vince was in the kitchen making margaritas, as is his like. I like them to, but I hate to make them. Fortunately, Vince is such a dolt, I can con him into making them every time.

But when the show began, Vince absolutely lost it.

"Ahhhhhhhh! What the hell! Oh jeezus, this has got to be a nightmare!" Vince was staring intently at the bottle of tequila. "Damn, mom was right, drinking was going to drive me mad!"

"I think she was talking about masturbation."

"Oh yeah, that too. . ."

But he began shaking the bottle. "Damn you Jose, how could you do this to me. You have brought my worst nightmare into vivid reality."

Aarron wasn't really concerned, but he asked anyway. "What is your problem Vince."

Hozehead was pointing at the TV. "Right there. The proof is on the idiot box! The Republicans actually did win the presidential election and are already trying to socially reengineer America. We've time-warped back to the fifties!"

Aarron and I were shaking our heads; Aarron's in laughter, mine in disbelief. "Vince, it's just the short before the movie . . . A Date With your something or other."

"Your Parents," finished Aarron.

"With evil is the truth! Do you realize that it wasn't a little over 30 years ago that this was actually forced down kids throats as the way things were supposed to be! I mean there was actually a time when children were zombie-like slaves to a set of unrealistic social values."

"Yeah, like respect your elders."

Vince whipped his head around at the Professor. "Yeah, or don't burden your father with idle prattle, he's had a tough day at work."

"I don't see where the problem is Vince. It's not like they are saying vote Republican and by a Chrysler."

I had to open my mouth at this point, which, as always, I would regret. "Actually, if it wasn't for the massive bungling of the Dole campaign, it could have been reality. I mean, here was a guy spouting off that we had to return to the more "simple" times of the fifties. That getting away from the values of those times was the reason we had rampant crime, family breakups and drug use."

Aarron scowled at me. "Be careful, we've already had this debate once this month."

But Vince wasn't stopping. As the short played out, he was shaking and mumbling to himself. The scene where the girl was told to change into something more appealing for dinner, he blurted out, "There's family values. Can't have dad not getting turned on by his bobby socks-wearing daughter."

Fortunately, the short ended and Invasion USA started. This gave Vince a chance to calm down, though he was caught off guard when it turned out not to be the Golan/Globus film starring Chuck Norris. On the down side, by the look on his face, it gave Aarron a chance to formulate some devious way to mess with Hozeheads mind.

The film was really bad . . . almost Red Zone Cuba bad. In my mind it wasn't even a film, it was more of a really long government short about supporting the government, no matter why. What may be most bothersome is that now, the whole concept seems laughable, but in the fifties, people really took this tripe to heart. A pretty good episode all in all, but I really couldn't get into it because of the thoughts that were floating about my mind regarding the short and what was most assuredly to come.

In fact, the film and the short went nicely together. They both had that same urgent push for conforming to rules and to what those in power over you said. The strict order of how things were supposed to go at dinner. Don't bring up bad news . . . don't talk about unpleasent things . . . even though that is reality and should be dealt with. Yes, the Eisenhower era was not very fun and most possibly the darkest period for democracy in America. I mean the line where he said not letting the government tell him how many tractors he could make was beautiful. Here is a film designed to make us afraid of the "Red Menace" of communism, and yet it is encouraging collectivism."

When the ending credits rolled and the Professor stopped the machine, I was trying to get out of the chair and leave before the two of them started it up again. Unfortunately, my lower torso was numb and all I could manage was a feeble, weeble wobble motion that made beer shoot of Vince's nose. "Laugh while you can monkey boy."

"Vince, do you realize that these shorts were shown in schools up until the early seventies. Do you know what that means?"

"People were stupid."

"It means that the generations that followed those supposed utopian fifties days were smart enough to realize that times like that could never be again. All these shorts did to them were give them a good laugh and the schools an excuse not to teach. I mean, all of those AV movies we watched. Those animal shows narrated by Rex Allen had to be the worst."

"Okay, maybe, but now there is this seventies retro thing. Whose to say there won't be a fifties retro thing."

I jumped into the fray. "Please Vince, those teeny boppers of the late fifties were the mid twenty year olds that were dying in Vietnam, or protesting it on campus. The memories that they were lied to by society . . . that utopian was the dream of fools."

"Damn it Benson! I warned you about dragging another debate into this one!"

Crap! Had to change the course real quick like. "Okay then, what was the worst short you had to sit through?"

Aarron adjusted his glasses. "No you all must understand that I was in the 8th grade in 1969, so there were some shorts that people still believed in. Many of the ones that MST3K has played, I was forced to watch for real. I remember vividly A Date With Your Parents. Design For Dreaming was pretty wierd. By far, the most twisted ones they have done was the read one, with the devil and that angel chick. That kind of thing is the obvious reason Dahmer lost it and started eating people. The funniest was the one where the cop was talking to the family about the railroads."

"Last Clear Chance!"

"Right, that one was funnier than hell when the bots got ahold of it, especially when the cop snapped. I bet it scared the crap out of some ninth graders back in 1965. I bet there was some teacher, the one who previewed these films, who said to the Drivers Ed teacher, "hey Tom, I don't think we should show this film, it's pretty harsh" as he chewed on his cigar."

"Yeah and that guy, who doubled as the PE teacher said, "These damn kids are going to have to face reality sooner or later" and then wondered why these children suddenly started dropping acid and listening to Jimi Hendrix. But I'm talking about ones you actually watched."

I'd have to say the half hour bit on the plastic resin industry as the cornerstone of American survival in the late twentieth century industrial market. It's tough to absorb the enormity of value the petroleum byproducts industry provides to the economy when you are in the 7th grade and all you care about is weather you were going to miss an episode of the Banana Splits. I think it was called "Plastics: Americas Future . . . Your future" or something like that."

Vince looked like he was still thinking, which could take hours, so I gave my input. "The one I remember most, other than the "Blood of the Pavement' type of films, which rocked, was some Disney short where that Professor Drake guy used the game of pool to try and teach you geometry. I can't remember the title, but what I can say is that I cannot deal with algebra because of it."

Aarron added, "You can't play pool either."

Finally Vince stepped in. He was swirling his drink and had a really thoughtful look on his face. "All of those were bad. I can't remember much about school and I don't remember any specifics, but I remember every time Jimmy Kreeger, the AV geek, clicked on the projector, I tasted copper in my mouth. There was always that smell. That dust on the projector bulb heating up and getting burnt smell that would linger for like 3 hours. And the sound, the fact that hundreds and hundreds of kids had to sit in class, listening to the film, and sooner or later, without fail, would hear that odd gargling sound when the film would shimmy in the strip . . . like some unholy Zen mantra. And the praying. Oh the religion that middle school kids could summon up when the film started. Hoping that for once, just for once, the movie would be good. And like most wishes that kids make, they were crushed. God loves AV films and I think he takes great pleasure in his ability to torment children, because maybe once in every kids entire school experience, there would be one film that was actually good. And that kid would think, thank you AV God, I will study hard, and I will perform my trig rosaries and I will do 20 Hail Newtons . . . and then the bulb would fry the film. Melting away, ever so slowly, all joy and hope."

Vince sunk in the easy chair, staring woefully into his glass. the ice melting, diluting his drink. "Yes, he is a vengeful and wrathful god . . . why else would a kid have to sit through an environmental film produced in a joint venture by Dupont Chemicals and Phillips Petroleum."

Push the button Vince.

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