the most amazing accessory in video game history: Brøderbund’s U-Force! just kidding, U-Force, you’re terrible

as my Irish sidekick knows all too well, sometimes i get going on some ridiculous rant that seems funny at the time (at least to us), only to ultimately realize that while i’d LIKE to replicate said rant for the internet, i will never be able to. at best, i’ll try, but be unable to think of some very specific moments from the rant that were truly funny (or at the very least THINK i am unable to) and thus always having the nagging feeling of not doing it correctly. still, sometimes we must risk this level of disappointment (mainly due to a lack of other topics) and write said rants up as best as we can.

this is one of those times. and the topic is… Brøderbund’s U-Force.

the Power Glove
the Power Glove: setting new standards in over-hyped, under-performing NES accessories

so back when i was younger, i eventually had an NES, completely a widely-varied set of NES games, some awesome (Guardian Legend still rules to this day, and i don’t care what anyone says about it), some terrible. i’m actually drawing a blank on the WORST game i had for the NES, as i mostly just recall the games i liked a lot (Guardian Legend, Final Fantasy) or the ones that were completely ridiculous (Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man, which was insane AND has a clearly redundant title, and which i fondly recall buying at a yard sale in Virginia, thus proving it’s ridiculous what one remembers), but there had to be something awful. but what i didn’t have was what a lot of kids wanted when we were younger: ridiculous additional Nintendo peripherals or accessories or whatever you want to call them.

see, when you’re an adult, you realize that these peripherals/accessories/whatever –aside from improved controllers or a Game Genie or the NES Zapper light gun, which remained awesome– fall into one of two categories: either they’re for a very limited number of games (sometimes even just one), thus making them kind of lame, or they’re fucking TERRIBLE, thus making them more than just kind of lame. even the NES Zapper only had like 19 games for it, which seems decent until you remember there were about 13000 NES games out there. to run through major NES peripherals i remember: the LaserScope worked for all NES Zapper games, but constantly malfunctioned (fucking terrible); the Power Glove only had like 4 games AND constantly malfunctioned (limited games, fucking terrible); the Power Pad had 11 games, but i don’t recall people claiming it was always broken (limited games); R.O.B. was a tiny Nintendo robot that worked with two games. although let me be honest: R.O.B. is fucking awesome. i do not care what anyone says.

R.O.B.
seriously, i do not care what anyone says: R.O.B. is fucking awesome

but when you’re a child, all you remember is the villainous kid from the Wizard rocked a Power Glove, and that every kid in the movie was in total awe of it, and that you HAVE TO HAVE THIS POWER GLOVE. which brings us to the U-Force. let’s let Wikipedia describe this thing:

“The U-Force was a game controller made by Brøderbund for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It employed a pair of perpendicular infrared sensor panels to translate the user’s hand movements into controller signals. From a print advertisement circa 1989:

Introducing U-Force, the revolutionary controller for your Nintendo Entertainment System. So hot, no one can touch it. Now you can feel the power without touching a thing. It’s U-FORCE from Broderbund – the first and only video game controller that, without touching anything, electronically senses your every move, and reacts. There’s nothing to hold, nothing to jump on, nothing to wear, U-Force creates a power field that responds to your every command–making you the controller. It’s the most amazing accessory in video game history – and it will change the way you play video games forever. It’s the challenge of the future. U-Force. Now nothing comes between you and the game.”

Brøderbund's U-Force
oh, it knows your every move alright … it just wants nothing to do with implementing them

clearly i was swayed by the fact that this was “the most amazing accessory in video game history,” although to be fair, it WOULD have changed the way i played video games forever, because it absolutely sucked at letting you play a video game. i was a pretty smart kid, so the only reason i can give for why it didn’t occur to me that this thing would be TERRIBLE is “the awesome power of print advertising, i guess.”

now, my parents were not huge on video games (we didn’t have an NES until my grandparents bought one for me and my sibling, in one of the rare occurrences where a gift meant for multiple kids titled in my favor; my parents liked me to read books and play outside; stuff like that), so i didn’t get a lot of NES stuff from them: most of my games i bought myself, which is another large reason why i didn’t have stuff like the Power Glove. for some reason, though, my mother made the WORST possible decision and decided to get me a U-Force for Christmas, which was awesome on the level of “holy shit, you got me some insane Nintendo thing i wanted,” but in retrospect was not her finest hour. she’s pretty smart as well, so i suppose she also can be victimized by the awesome power of print advertising.

so i got this U-Force, i’m turbo-excited to play with it, and i rush downstairs to my Nintendo to discover the following:

01. for the “most amazing accessory in video game history,” it was very restrained in what games it claimed to work with
i have no idea where my U-Force and/or its instruction manual are (the U-Force, at least, is PROBABLY in my parents’ house somewhere), but i recall the manual taking a very limited attitude towards the games it worked with, which i assume meant “we bothered to try it out with these 13 games and it worked fine, so go wild within those limits.” on the one hand, i can appreciate this honesty; on the other hand, it spoke very negatively about how this thing would perform. i don’t think i even tried it with any game that it didn’t claim to work with, but we’ll get to that.

02. it didn’t ACTUALLY work with the games it said it did
see if you can tell me what’s wrong with assuming this U-Force was a good idea: you’re going to end up playing Super Mario Brothers, a game commonly played with a controller, by randomly moving your hands around in a small cubic area breaking infrared beams. exactly. it’s one of the reasons people note that touchscreens are not in a rush to replace buttons: buttons (and control pads) can be goddamn effective at what they’re supposed to do. and the U-Force was pretty much worse than that: i don’t recall it working with a SINGLE GAME that i owned that it supposedly worked with. it didn’t work poorly; it just didn’t seem to do anything.

03. …except for Rad Racer
well, okay, there WAS one exception: Rad Racer, that classic 1987 NES racing game (that was, oddly enough, also played with a Power Glove in the movie the Wizard). now, i don’t really like racing games –i have MAYBE owned a few, but they were mainly stuff like Mario Kart, which is more about team shenanigans than racing, and i don’t think i have ever bought a hardcore racing fan’s idea of a racing game– so it’s a little odd that i owned Rad Racer. more odd still: you could kind of play it with the U-Force. the beams worked… a little. you could steer… vaguely. it was a game i recall the manual saying would work with the U-Force, so again, honesty points, but really, all i can play with the most amazing accessory in video game history is Rad Racer? LAME.

unrelated note: Rad Racer, all in all, was an okay game. shout out to Rad Racer for not sucking completely.

the U-Force
THE CONTROL STICK AND BUTTONS, THEY DO NOTHING

04. the extra control stick and buttons also did nothing
so you might have noted that the U-Force appears to have an idiotic-looking control stick and lots of buttons on it, so surely you could use THESE for something in the event that the U-Force itself did not work exactly as intended? well, not exactly, and by “not exactly,” i mean “they didn’t seem to do a goddamn thing either, aside from making me fill with all the rage tiny childhood janklow can muster up.” oh, i TRIED to use the control stick, but it didn’t seem to work with games that the U-Force had worked with (as in, Rad Racer) or the ones the U-Force had NOT worked with (as in, every other game that i owned). to this day, i’m not even sure why those buttons and/or that control stick were included. i mean, hey, they’re not related to infrared beams, so isn’t that unrelated to what the U-Force is all about.

the answer is no; the U-Force was all about “being a colossal failure” and “smashing my childhood dreams.”

ultimately, i gave up on the U-Force completely after a matter of several furious hours and never spoke of it again. the plus side to my parents not being huge on video games is that to this day, i don’t think my mother (or father) actually realizes how disappointing and worthless that gift was. it’s obviously not her fault –i really, REALLY wanted that U-Force– but it’s a little funny that she never even realized she could have given me a major ration of shit about abandoning the gift i so wanted.

even worse is this: when my mother was shopping for that Christmas, she had a bunch of gifts stolen while shopping … including the FIRST U-Force she’d bought me for that Christmas. she actually ended up buying TWO of the goddamn things that year. would i have forgotten this anecdote if the U-Force hadn’t sucked completely? it’s very likely.

…and there you go; hopefully this contained some of the comedy of the original rant, if not any of the insane gesticulation with which i punctuate my real-life rants. so it goes.

this Stephen King-related outrage of mine must be reported to the internet IMMEDIATELY

now, look, before i get into the following listicle/rant/whatever it is, i will acknowledge this: when we rank works of art, be they books or movies or whatever, there’s bound to be some disagreement based on taste and personal preference and all that. i accept this. on the other hand, sometimes you read a list –say, a list supposedly tasked with “ranking all 62 Stephen King books“– and you become entirely outraged, and you say to yourself, “this outrage of mine must be reported to the internet IMMEDIATELY.” so i think you see the genesis of this particularly update.

now, while i have largely given up my passion for reading works of fiction –at some point, it occurred to me the basis of fiction was that people have some sort of connection with each other, but they don’t– i will always have a soft spot for Stephen King. he strikes me as a writer who really, truly wanted to be a Great Writer writing Important Books, but whose gift lay in another direction, popular fiction. this i don’t say as a shot at King, but more as a reason to why i generally think he deserves some respect even from people who turn up their nose at the kind of books with vampire babies and incredibly, incredibly awkward group sex scenes. (shudder) i’m still not over that one.

all that being said, i think some of his work IS pretty close to out-and-out shit, and that it’s definitely possibly to rank it all better than this garbage list did, a list that may have resulted in my yelling at my computer in PURE RAGE. what i shall focus on here, though, is my 13 major outrages regarding this list as opposed to my specific “this is how i would have ranked them all” position.

JANKLOW’S 13 MAJOR OUTRAGES INVOLVING THIS VULTURE LIST “RANKING ALL 62 STEPHEN KING BOOKS”

these are not in any particular ranking order; it’s more of a “things that pop out to me as i read the list” kind of listicle.

some assorted King books
janklow is determined to make a random ranking of these books CONTENTIOUS

01. the inclusion of Stephen King’s nonfiction works on this list, period
granted, i understand that the premise of the 62 book list is “if you count novels, nonfiction, and short-story collections,” but let’s be honest: his nonfiction works (Danse Macabre and On Writing) should NOT be on the same list as 60 fiction books, especially when you consider the fact that they’re ranked quite highly (#11 and #02, respectively), and that one (Danse Macabre) is basically described as densely-written but essential if you like horror (sort of a weak review for such a high ranking) and the other (On Writing) as “a new Strunk and White of sorts.”

02. the Tommyknockers being ranked #61
do i think the Tommyknockers is great? no, and to be honest, i think the heavy dose of anti-nuclear sentiment weakens the book (King periodically gets obsessed with hammering on some topic in a work, a notion that never works to the benefit of the book). but ranked second from the bottom? under books that are clearly much worse to anyone that’s read them? i admit this is subjective to some extent, but come on, now. someone is CLEARLY holding a grudge against that mediocre 1993 movie featuring Jimmy Smits and Marg Helgenberger. pretty much everything in this book related to the shed is strongly than every single aspect of his weaker books.

03. the slightest positive sentiment about King letting Rage go out of print
Rage, at #57 ranked second-worst of all King’s books published as Richard Bachmann (seems about right, although maybe 57 is too harsh, as it does read like an awkward early novel), is not a great book that needs some impassioned defense. however, this list touches on something King did when they mention that “wisely or not, King allowed the book to go out of print, partly because of a fear of having future school shootings linked to it.” let me be frank: this was a chickenshit, pathetic gesture on King’s part. in fact, i believe in the forward to Blaze describes Rage being out of print as “Now out of print, and a good thing.” is it true that a couple of school shooters seem to have read or owned the book? sure. but note that King talks about Rage and the short story “Cain Rose Up” as something that “would have raised red flags, and I’m certain someone would have tabbed me as mentally ill because of them” … and yet he did nothing of the sort that these shooters did. so the point is what, exactly?

full disclosure: i have a weird habit of buying old copies of the Bachmann Books that include Rage in them because the current printings don’t include it, and if someone was to mention purchasing a new copy to me, i will give them one of my old ones. it’s like my weird, silent, pointless protest against King being a gigantic pussy about the whole matter. yeah, it’s his work and he’s well within his rights to see it not in print. he can do what he likes. but anything that smacks of censorship of works based on what kind of content is appropriate makes me a little sad, King. that is all.

04. the claim that Gerald’s Game omits the supernatural
to be specific, the list claims “though the supernatural is absent from this novel (as it is in many of his books, despite King’s reputation),” and while i must admit that it has been YEARS since i have even glanced at this work (i would give strong consideration to ranking it at the bottom of my list), i am reminded that one of my major complaints with Dolores Claiborne and Gerald’s Game was the inclusion of the supernatural. huh, you say? well, both books are not about supernatural matters: Gerald’s Game is about a woman escaping from the results of accidentally killing her husband during a bondage game, and Dolores Claiborne is about a woman accused of killing her employer admitting to murdering her abusive, molesting husband. that’s it. however, i’ll let Wikipedia handle this:

“In King’s subsequent novel, Dolores Claiborne, it is revealed that the title main character shared a telepathic connection with Jessie Burlingame on two occasions, first during the solar eclipse when Jessie was assaulted by her father, and later when she is handcuffed to the bed. The two novels were initially conceived to be part of a single volume titled In the Path of the Eclipse. Later editions of Dolores Claiborne have a foreword that explains the connection between the two.”

now, i am going to be honest: i forget if this connection is explicit in Gerald’s Game –whereas it is absolutely used to describing seeing events from Gerald’s Game in Dolores Claiborne– but given that this ranking list seems to defend books connected to the whole Dark Tower series mess based on the strength of other books, i’m going to insist we don’t pretend the pair of eclipse-themed books aren’t unrelated to the supernatural. frankly, the fact that they mashed it in there is something that i found unnecessary and annoying. and now i will apologize, because this is a weak complaint and an entirely complicated one. I JUST CAN’T HELP IT.

05. motherfucking BLACK HOUSE existing at all
now, this list doesn’t rank Black House very highly (only #49), but it’s more the way they excuse some of its faults: “as with Insomnia, there are chunks of Black House undecipherable to the Dark Tower uninitiated.” this is not the problem with Black House. the actual problem is that King and Straub wrote a sequel to a book i enjoyed very, very much (the Talisman), as evidenced by my internet alias here, and which had its own universe and its own back history… and then attempted to cram tons of Dark Tower mythology into the sequel. i admit the “interconnected worlds” plot/setting is very similar to the Dark Tower series (and by extension, King’s shoddy attempts to tie all his books together), but the execution is so sloppy that we shouldn’t just say it’s awkward to those uniniatied, we should say it’s repugnant to those who read the previous book.

general statement: King should just not bother writing years-later sequels to his books that were probably never intended to have sequels. there’s going to be a sequel to the Shining THIRTY-SIX YEARS after the Shining was published? i can’t imagine any way in which this sequel will entirely suck and ruin the original for me just a little!

Stephen King?
i do kind of miss the 1970s-era “awkward schoolboy” look of Stephen King

06. the Long Walk ranked far too low; Roadwork ranked far too high
i will sum up my position with “there is no better Bachmann novel than the Long Walk”: the Regulators is a messy pile that deserves the low ranking it gets; Rage and Blaze are both middling early works; Thinner and the Running Man are fun, but just inferior. i won’t even try to justify it beyond that, because hey, if you REALLY love Thinner, i cannot satisfy you with any real argument. but there’s two other things that i know for a fact: the Long Walk is better than Roadwork, and ranking the former #47 and the latter #20 is fucking DISGUSTING. i think Roadwork was ranked highly because a) it feels the most “different” of all those Bachmann novels and b) it feels much more like a “serious work of fiction” than the average Stephen King book: nothing supernatural, no fictional or outlandish setting, just a period piece from the 1970s. Roadwork is not a shit book at all, but the Long Walk crushes it. CRUSHES IT.

also, a bonus snide shot at King: so Roadwork has a guy getting guns and shooting at authority figures and blowing up their stuff because he’s angry and fed up. given that people have also done this at various times in life, why hasn’t King asked THIS book to be removed from print? because none of those guys owned copies of Roadwork? hmmm.

07. the review of Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla being entirely negative without punishing the book (Dark Tower VII’s review as well)
i’m not about to defend this book at all; i hate all that Dark Tower stuff. ALL THAT DARK TOWER STUFF IS AWFUL. but here’s what annoys me: the list gives us what appears to be an unmitigated trashing of Dark Tower V: it calls it a “loose rewriting of The Magnificent Seven” (something that cannot be good for the fifth book in what’s supposed to be your life-defining series); it calls it out on being a massive and all-encompassing genre mash-up (including “significant references to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics,” which sounds awful); and it adds that “the climactic confrontation is a prime example of what King does not do well — battle scenes.” my objection? #38 is high enough on the list that i want to know why this book is better than all the books you’re telling me it’s better than (say, the Long Walk).

a similar thing happens when we get to Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower at #26. the book is called “bloated to a certain degree” (which is really saying something when you consider how King can run on and on if he chooses to) and goes on to say “the book also falls flat when it finally unveils the villain who has loomed so large over the series.” what’s the single positive thing said? the conclusion “also contains one of the most honestly tear-jerking scenes in all of King’s work.” wow. granted, i totally get that while many HATE the ending of this book, some love it, so there’s surely a case to be made for it … but then where’s that case? this book is ranked #26!

08. again, the inclusion of Stephen King’s nonfiction works on this list, period
oh, did i mention that this list ALSO includes King and Stewart O’Nan’s work Faithful, a book that, to again quote Wikipedia, “chronicles exchanges between King and O’Nan about the Red Sox’s 2004 season, beginning with an e-mail in summer 2003, and throughout the 2004 season, from Spring Training to the World Series.” again, this nonfiction stuff (especially this Red Sox fandom nonsense that i could care less about) should not be getting ranked against fiction.

09. giving the Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands “demerits” because of Blaine
now, i don’t really want to be sitting here defending a Dark Tower book, as i don’t care for them very much. however, our author here pushes Dark Tower III down to #31 (still in the top half, and probably too high of a ranking) with the remark “demerits for the puzzle-happy talking train that arrives at book’s end.” so here’s the thing: the puzzle-happy talking train is no more ridiculous than a) anything else that happens in this book or b) the concept of mashing up Harry Potter and Star Wars and all kinds of other popular fiction you didn’t create together in your book. Blaine’s at least a unique character (unless someone could tell me where King stole him from) and i like him, damn it, although i wish he’d killed off every character in that series that he could.

Roland, i suppose
give them all the attractive art you want; i will still think the Dark Tower series is AWFUL

10. King’s more recent work being ranked too highly
i have a suspicion that books people have read more recently (as in, works that King has published more recently) are better recalled and are being rewarded for that fact by the author. 11/22/63 was published last year, and it’s ranked #24: i’ve heard decent things about the book, so okay, maybe that’s legit. Full Dark, No Stars was published in 2010, and it’s ranked #32: not THAT outrageous, i guess. From A Buick 8, a 2002 book, and thus probably the outer limit of “more recent work,” is ranked #16: granted, our author is arguing that it’s an underrated book, but i remain unconvinced. but Under The Dome is a 2009 book ranked #12, and while a lot of people i know called it okay, i can’t fathom any of them nearly putting it in King’s all-time top ten. worse still: Lisey’s Story was 2006, and was ranked #10, and i have never, EVER heard anyone say a single good thing about this book. not one person, not one thing. so how the fuck is this book #10?

granted, some modern books got tossed further down the list, and i definitely sound like an old crank hollering about how the older works are the better works. no debate there. but here’s the thing: i truly believe the older works ARE the better works. sure, books like Rage and even Carrie may read as comparatively immature, but this was also the era where King had editors, had to cut his books down, and most of all, didn’t have the incredibly permissive atmosphere that comes from being STEPHEN FUCKING KING. if i rank these books, i theorize right now that i don’t put a book that’s less than 20 years old in my top ten.

11. Night Shift (#21) being ranked below Skeleton Crew (#13)
this isn’t REALLY a major outrage when you consider that both are ranked fairly highly and fairly close together. however, the argument for the superior ranking of Skeleton Crew is basically “King’s second short-story collection shows a range that most authors of any genre would be incapable of achieving.” i happen to think that Night Shift shows the same range, with the slight absence of not including “an ambitious novella.” here’s the thing: i don’t think including a novella shows any variation in range, so i don’t see how that’s an argument for Skeleton Crew.

ultimately, they’re both solid collections and his best two short-story collections, so i’m being a little bitchy about this one. but there it is.

12. ANYTHING BEING RANKED HIGHER THAN ‘SALEM’S LOT, DAMN IT
‘Salem’s Lot is ranked #8, and that’s a good ranking, and they even give it the shout-out of “it remains one of the best vampire books ever written,” which is a motherfucking FACT. the books that outrank it include some iconic works that you’d expect (the Shining at #4, IT at #3, the Stand at #1), as well as a book i think a lot of his fans underrate, but which is a really good work: Different Seasons (at #5). the only other ones above it are Misery (#6), a book that i’ve already stated shouldn’t be on this list at all (On Writing at #2) and one other work we’ll come back to in a minute. so this is, again, personal preference.

…however, let me just say what i have said many times before: if people read Stephen King 50 years from now, or 100 years from now, or whatever, ‘Salem’s Lot is going to be the best example of the merits of his work. it captures all the good King and skips the non-editing later years or the bloat of works like IT and the Stand, and the fact that it’s about a clear-cut scenario with solid characters –vampires move to a small town in Maine– will help it stand the test of time. it’s probably his only work that i would call a Good Book and not feel compelled to immediately defend, beyond to say “well, as far as a vampire book can be a Good Book, anyway.”

13. Dark Tower books ranked way too goddamn high, as expected
again, ALL THAT DARK TOWER STUFF IS AWFUL. but look at where they’re all ranked: Dark Tower VI, #56. Dark Tower V, #38. Dark Tower 4.5, #35. Dark Tower III, #31. Dark Tower VII, #26. Dark Tower II, #19. Dark Tower I, #14. and worst of all, WORST OF ALL, Dark Tower IV at #7. AT NUMBER SEVEN! incidentally, this is the Dark Tower book that made me realize the Dark Tower series was absolutely turning to shit. I and II are decent enough, and III has its merits… but IV sucks. completely.

however, here’s the larger point: 5 of the 8 books (or 7.5, if you like) are ranked in the top half of the list, and that feels undeserved. we’ve heard several times how not reading the entire series weakens each individual book. that’s totally fine and you’d probably expect as much, but i personally would expect that to weaken each of these works in the face of standalone novels that don’t require you to read a handful of other books just to get caught up. IV is being called “an incredibly well-told tale,” and it might be true to some, but #7 is far too goddamn high for a book that’s fourth in the series. also, it completely sucks, so that’s another objection i have to the rankings.

so there we go. I AM STILL OUTRAGED. also, fuck it, i’ll rank these damn books myself:

'Salem's Lot
it’s really the best of these books, no matter how fond of the Talisman i am

JANKLOW’S RANKING OF ALL 59 RELEVANT STEPHEN KING BOOKS

59. Insomnia
58. the Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole
57. the Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
56. the Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
55. the Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
54. the Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
53. the Regulators
52. Dreamcatcher
51. Lisey’s Story
50. Cell
49. Gerald’s Game
48. Black House
47. Duma Key
46. Rose Madder
45. Blockade Billy
44. the Colorado Kid
43. the Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
42. Blaze
41. Rage
40. Bag Of Bones
39. Hearts In Atlantis
38. 11/22/63
37. From a Buick 8
36. Under the Dome
35. the Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
34. the Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
33. the Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
32. Cycle Of The Werewolf
31. Roadwork
30. Full Dark, No Stars
29. Four Past Midnight
28. Just Past Sunset
27. Nightmares & Dreamscapes
26. Everything’s Eventual
25. the Green Mile
24. Needful Things
23. Desperation
22. the Dark Half
21. Eyes of the Dragon
20. the Tommyknockers
19. Dolores Claiborne
18. Thinner
17. Firestarter
16. Christine
15. Carrie
14. Cujo
13. the Running Man
12. Pet Sematary
11. Skeleton Crew
10. the Long Walk
09. Night Shift
08. Misery
07. IT
06. the Dead Zone
05. Different Seasons
04. the Stand
03. the Shining
02. the Talisman
01. ‘Salem’s Lot

“there is no death. there is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness.” oh, also no ghosts. ghosts aren’t real.

i must admit i am not a great believer in many of the “mysterious happenings and/or mysterious things that eat goats” that the unwashed masses feel fill the world around them, generally on the grounds that all those things are incredibly unlikely to be true. i understand why a sasquatch being real would be cool –academically cool, anyway, because for the life of me i cannot figure out what benefit to society a sasquatch would provide, because it’s unlikely they’d turn out to be turbo-delicious or have sweet, luxurious fur we could turn into awesome coats– but i just don’t see any logical reason to assume the half-assed evidence ridiculous dudes who have gotten onto television somehow are throwing is proof of anything besides “whoever signed off on this whole Finding Bigfoot program must have access to some INCREDIBLY good drugs.”

the same goes for ghosts: while i am even willing to grant ghosts are more “reasonable” than sasquatches and yetis and stink apes and everything else on the grounds that a ghost, being non-corporeal, could THEORETICALLY be anywhere taking up no space, whereas a stink ape needs some land in which to, well, stink … i still don’t buy the concept, not least because there’s approximately ONE MILLION goddamn ghost finding or catching or adventuring shows out there, and they’ve so far located no much more than some video proof that morons in a dark house are easily scared by THE RAW MYSTERY OF IT ALL.

but maybe, just maybe, i am being too harsh on this whole ghosts-don’t-exist thing? so this brings us to the current week’s update, in which i examine some surely 100% accurate ghost stories that MUST be proof of nefarious supernatural shenanigans.

Zelda Rubenstein
this house … is incredibly loud late at night

woman who blamed late-night noise on poltergeist is evicted from home

“A young mother has been taken to court after ignoring warnings to stop having loud all-night parties. Leanne Fennell, 20, told her neighbours a poltergeist was to blame for the thumping music and rubbish strewn in the garden.”

now, okay, my understanding of poltergeists (based mainly on the fact that i’ve seen the movie Poltergeist at least 10 times, for some reason, and most of Poltergeist II at least once) tells me that this is sort of in line with “what poltergeists do”: they like to make a racket (check), they like to throw things about (check), and they like to make everyone’s life difficult (check). this all being said, it IS mysterious that this ‘young mother’ (don’t see how THAT is relevant) was not bitching about her poltergeist friend until his late-night parties became a social inconvenience).

“She has now been evicted from the home in Wexford Avenue, on the Greatfield estate in east Hull. Hull City Council prosecuted Fennell after she ignored a noise abatement notice served earlier this year.”

well, of COURSE she ignored it: she wasn’t doing anything wrong! it was a poltergeist! although again, i think if i had a incorporeal ghost-like being wrecking my house and blasting my “Scumdogs Of The Universe” album at top volumes all night long (admittedly a guess, as a i have no idea what poltergeists like to rock out to, but i think it’s a sound guess) and i was slapped with some kind of British ticket, i’d at LEAST want the cops to know that they’re slapping the wrong resident with their noise abatement notice.

“Council officers also seized four televisions, four DVD players and a CD player, which will now be destroyed.”

wait, what? brief tangent: why are these things being destroyed? if you’re turbo-loud in Britain, they seize and break all your stuff to teach you a lesson? because it seems like, at the very least, you could sell these things and turn them into GOVERNMENT MONEY. or maybe give them to a poor kid who doesn’t have even one television, let alone FOUR televisions? i consider this to be proof of your society being a wasteful pile of consumers, Britain. except for Wales, because Wales is cool. they can destroy all the televisions they want.

“One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “She told us a poltergeist would keep switching the music on really loud when she was in bed.” However, another neighbour told of “night after night” of loud parties running into the early hours of the morning. “Some of the neighbours had a terrible time,” they said. “There was always bottles and bottles of wine and cider just chucked in the garden. She had at least four huge bonfires to burn some of the rubbish that was in there.”

the key problem with this cover story, i think, is that if you’ve got a bunch of loud parties going on, there’s GOT to be a stream of people coming in and out of the place, right? so what are those people doing while the poltergeist is dicking around with your stereo, sitting quietly in the front room reading books about economics and naval warfare and so on? unlikely. plus, let’s be honest: who wants to party (or even visit) at a home inhabited by an annoying-as-hell poltergeist? and why is Fennell in bed when there’s parties going on at her- wait, i think i figured out the answer to that one.

also… she had four huge bonfires to deal with trash? has Britain become some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with neo-Luddite television smashing and massive trash bonfires while i wasn’t paying attention?

“On her Facebook page, Fennell says: “First and most of all I’m a proud mam to a beautiful little girl. I’m not fussy … but a girl should try look her best 24/7. I also sin but I’m not the devil, so with me what you see is what you get. I love to party with my mates, well, the ones who can keep up with me that is.”

oh, i forgot the other key problem: people forgetting that stupid shit you post on Facebook, even stupid shit that busts your incredibly clever “a poltergeist did it” story, can (and will) be read by many, many people. perhaps even those looking to bust you for something, if only so that they can destroy your televisions as a punishment!

“Hull magistrates ordered her to pay fines of £370 and costs of £500 to Hull City Council. Last week, the council ran a week of events to encourage people to report neighbourhood nuisance.”

so instead of selling the televisions and DVD players and all to recoup the £870, we smash them? sorry, sorry, i’ll get over this television smashing thing. ultimately, her mistake was clear: not reporting the poltergeist to the proper authorities as directed by the Hull City Council. they probably would have at LEAST sent in a tiny old medium lady to resolve the problem. although, when you consider the fact that said tiny old medium lady wasn’t enough to prevent all those Poltergeist sequels, you have to consider that she might not really have been that effective of a poltergeist-fighting force.

surely this is the only irrational ghost claim i can think of right now? well…

neon ghost sign, hell yes
found this image result while looking for Josue Chinchilla, to which i say “fuck yeah”

N.J. couple suing their landlord over a ‘haunted’ house

“Most ghost stories don’t wind up in court. But a family in Toms River, N.J., has filed a lawsuit demanding that their landlord let them out of their new lease and return their security deposit, because, they say, the house he rented them was “haunted.” Is this an Amityville Horror-style story, or a scam? Here, a brief guide:”

for one thing, i don’t know why we’re continuing to debate this seriously: yes, it’s a scam. hell, even if you go with the former (that “Amityville Horror-style story”), i’m pretty sure they proved THAT was a scam as well. so it’s “scam” or “scam” i can choose from? i’m voting for “scam.” also, writer of this piece, could we just say “Toms River, NJ” and be done with it? because i’m not saying that it’s WRONG your way, but i have to admit that i just think it looks sloppy as hell.

“What exactly happened in this “haunted” house?
Some extremely spooky stuff, according to the tenants, Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan. In their lawsuit, the couple, who lived in the house along with her two children for just one week, say they frequently came home to find clothes and towels strewn across the floor. They also say that doors in the house sometimes opened slowly and slammed shut, on their own, and they often saw lights flicker. Sometimes, when everyone was in bed, the family could hear footsteps in the kitchen.”

wait, so “the house gets messy sometimes” and “lights flickering” now qualify as “extremely spooky stuff?” please, give me a fucking break. extremely spooky stuff should involve blood, or mysterious voices, or being attacked by a tree in the messy pool of your backyard. THAT is extremely spooky. or even a crazy clown doll trying to kill your child! however, the fact that clothes and towels were found strewn on the floor in a house that includes two children among its inhabitants seems to qualify less as “extremely spooky stuff” and more “something PROBABLY done by your messy goddamn children, who are almost certainly not ghosts, although i admittedly don’t know that much about them from this article.” summation: still a scam.

also, let me be clear: i HATE assuming the worst of anyone named Chinchilla. but it is what it is!

“Do they have any proof?
Chinchilla and Callan hired N.J. Paranormal Investigators to back up their claim. Marianne Brigando, co-founder of the agency, says her investigators found more evidence of haunting in this house than in any other house they have ever examined. Brigando says something unseen answered a question from her team using light switches. They also brought in a church pastor, who suggested the house had been possessed by demons. And, as it happens, the house is in the same town where the 1979 version of The Amityville Horror was filmed.”

well, let’s address this “proof”:
–i don’t know who the fuck “N.J. Paranormal Investigators” are, but if they’re anything like the average ghost-hunting jackass i see on television pissing themselves because they heard a spooky noise in a darkened building, i am DISTINCTLY unimpressed;
–but even if they’re totally on the level (unlikely), i frankly don’t know what the fuck “more evidence of haunting in this house than in any other house they have ever examined” is supposed to mean. granted, the article is of limited length, but maybe you could give me an example of ONE notably haunted house you’ve examined?
–and then the example she gives is something unseen (probably one of those children) fucking around with light switches. to be succinct, this is again something that doesn’t come anywhere near qualifying as “extremely spooky stuff”;
–and a random church pastor (presented without any identifying information or notion of what credentials he has) making a bold claim that the house is possessed by demons. shit, anyone could hire someone to just declare a house is filled with demons. i could be hired for a few hundred dollars to show up, wave around a Bible, and then say, “yeah, i totally sense demons here. this house is packed to the gills with extremely spooky demons.” i mean it, internet, i can literally be hired to do this. just, you know, drop me an e-mail;
–“as it happens, the house is in the same town where the 1979 version of The Amityville Horror was filmed.” i will just sum this up as “so fucking what.” it’s not even a claim that this is the Amityville Horror house. they filmed one version of the movie ABOUT A GODDAMN SCAM there. to repeat: so fucking what.

“What does the landlord say?
Predictably, landlord Richard Lopez is not buying it. Lopez, who has an orthodontist practice next to the allegedly haunted house, says he’s been renting out the house for years with no complaints, and his new tenants just made up the story so they could break their lease without losing their $2,250 security deposit. Lopez filed a counter suit accusing Chinchilla and Callan of using “paranormal activity” as an excuse to get out of a rental they can’t afford. “She is a single mom, she has this fiancé living with her,” says Lopez’s attorney David A. Semanchik. “I think she is in over her head.””

predictably, i find landlord Richard Lopez to be fucking awesome. now, okay, i grant you that he’s likely to call bullshit on anything a tenant throws at him to get out of their lease (and hey, if i had a haunted house i was renting out, i’d probably deny it as well), but if i was Richard Lopez and one of my tenants wanted out of their lease because the house was apparently haunted, well, i’d report them to whatever authority you report crazy people living in a house you own to. the police, i guess?

“So do the tenants have a case?
“Ultimately a judge will have the final word on whether the family will be able to escape their alleged nightmare on Lowell Avenue,” says Alyssa Newcomb at ABC News. It’s going to be an easy decision, says Cherlyn Gardner Strong at Paranormal Old Pueblo. “The only thing that matters is the terms of the rental contract,” which has no haunting clause. Even if testimony from paranormal detectives were admissible in court, the evidence in this case is flimsy. They don’t stand “a ghost of a chance.””

i will forgive the pun because of the mocking tone they take regarding “testimony from paranormal detectives.” but seriously, what confuses the hell out of me is why anyone would ever run with such a scam in the first place. GHOSTS ARE NOT REAL. and if they are real, they’re certain not screwing around with your towels and light switches.

alright, that’ll do it for this installment. until next time (whenever that is)…

apparently people like to search the words “Henry IV” and get on my back about it because i say he was a fake theatre dude… GTFOMD

one of the things i seem to forget is that if you don’t schedule these posts to publish, THEY DON’T GET PUBLISHED. this is an especially annoying fact to realize when you’ve finally gotten a post written –even if the post is short or not funny or whatever, because we’re looking at the mere fact that one was created AT ALL as some kind of divine intervention at this point– and you’re thinking, “god, FINALLY, now to go to bed,” and then you realize much later when you’re way behind on your posts (as usual) that you’re WAY behind on your posts because… well, i think you see where this is heading, especially now that i have replaced the original “pointless introductory rambling” with this “explaining the belated nature of the post” introductory rambling. enjoy!

Henry IV
Henry IV: turns out this dude was real

PSA: the Titanic was real, not just a movie

generally speaking, i try not to set some kind of level of disappointment with mankind, mainly out of the fear that, however low i rate them, they will manage to do worse. that said, it seems that the minds between Twitter designed that website/software/whatever the fuck it is for the sole purpose of allowing people to embarrass themselves: first we had Twitter revealing that all children should be beaten out of their awful, awful minds over the holidays, and now we have Twitter demonstrating the fact that a lot of people didn’t know that the Titanic didn’t happen. really? really:

URGE TO SLIT WRISTS RISING

sigh.

now, okay, there are always going to be stupid people in the world; the real problem here is that Twitter allows them to post all over my goddamn internet. perhaps this is why the noble class kept the common man illiterate for so long: the common man is a fucking moron, and no one wants to hear him go on and on about how he never knew Henry IV of England was, like, oh mh god, a REAL PERSON. i always just assumed that Shakespeare dude made him up! #peasantmindblown

however, i would like to discuss some reasons that i do NOT deem legitimate for these kids to be so fucking dumb.

01. because kids don’t know anything about history anyway

granted, this is sort of true: kids are stupid and they only care about rock music and bubble gum. however, generally speaking, i try NOT to accept the default “kids are stupid because they’re stupid” setting and TRY to encourage them to learn something. also, while the Titanic is not my personal cup of interesting tea, i think we all know full well that millions of people find it FASCINATING, and not just because it indirectly helped them see Kate Winslet’s breasts, which should tell us that some of these children would probably find it worth reading or learning about. yeah, some kids will just never give a shit, but still. it’s not supposed to be the INTERESTING history that’s hard to teach children.

further, on a totally mercenary level, you know a ton of books and items were pumped out and sold to now-adults at the time the movie made all that money. do you expect me to believe that NONE of these kids saw commemorative saucers or picture books sitting around their parents’ homes and put two and two together?

02. because the movie doesn’t make it clear it’s about a real event

so i guess the theory is that a movie should have to directly tell you that it’s based on reality? okay, if you’ve never read about the Titanic AND you’ve never seen the movie, maybe you have NO WAY of knowing that this boat actually honest-to-god sank all those years ago… but you know, i’m sure kids don’t watch Saving Private Ryan and walk away thinking, “hey, we fought a war against Germany?”

further, i know kids are dumb enough to think that movies actually show 100% accurate depictions of history; one of my long-standing beefs with Americans is that they watch movies and think they’ve seen an awesome documentary about All Those Historical Facts. the number of people i’ve had to dissuade from their belief that “it’d be cool to visit those Caribbean islands where all the cloned dinosaurs are” alone is depressing. so really, you’d think that the average idiot kid would watch Titanic and not think that it was a just a film, but rather, think this romantic tale of Jack and Rose and all that cloying love stuff that makes me want to vomit were 100% real.

…and this doesn’t even mention the fact that James Cameron spends every waking moment of his life talking about his real-world undersea adventures that feature, in large part, THE TITANIC. don’t try and tell me that children don’t hang on every word James Cameron says. to restate my earlier point, i would have bet cash money that more people thought the Abyss really happened than thought Titanic was “just a film.”

THESE FUCKING KIDS.

i think that’ll do it for this week; it’s been short and not so sweet, i admit, but then again, you also got a fairly sizable picture. be thankful for what you’ve got!