Monday, June 30, 2014

Taco Bell's All New Quesarito!

Is it a burrito, or a quesadilla, or simply a rolled up slice of heaven?

It's clear that Taco Bell views Chipotle as a major threat to the U.S.-ified Tex Mex fast food chain hierarchy. First, there was their line of gourmet tacos and burritos that looked and tasted suspiciously identical to Chipotle's much ballyhooed rolled up and bowled foodstuffs. Then, there was the Bell's announcement that it was going to open up its own line of higher-scale fast food eateries, whose MO sounds pretty much identical to Chipotle. And now, taking this rivalry to almost Bloods vs. Crips proportions, Taco Bell has fired what may very well be the fast food taco chain equivalent of the shelling of Fort Sumter: they've actually went and MASS MARKETED the competitor's off-the-menu urban legend!

The Quesarito, historically, has been known as a "secret" item that select Chipotle chains across the U.S. offered to customers who were in the know about furtive fast food offerings. Basically, a "quesarito" was a standard quesadilla, melted cheese and all, wrapped 360 degrees around a burrito. Sure, it sounds gross at first, but after a while, the inherent deliciousness of the concept strikes you. It may very well be the most ingenious way of making people fatter since the advent of the fried brownie, in my humblest of opinions.

I've tried ordering a quesarito a few times at various Chipotle stores, but always to no avail. With T-Bell riding high off their super-awesome breakfast menu blitzkrieg, I suppose they figured now was a good time to continue the offensive strategy, this time by defictionalizing their number one competitor's most mythical menu item!

Indeed, the items are EXACTLY what you'd expect them to be. They're semi-gourmet burritos -- topped off by your choice of meat -- blanketed by a thick, gooey tortilla wearing molten cheese like warpaint. I'm guessing the universe as a whole is split, 50-50, on whether or not that's the most salivating idea ever, or the absolute freaking grossest.

Currently, the Bell is offering three variations of the Quesarito. We'll take a look at the steak permutation first -- primarily, because that was the first one I opened up.

As you can see for yourself, we've got quite the medley of flavors going on here. There's cheddar cheese, some wild rice, some sour cream and a smidge of chipotle sauce, alongside the sinewy chunks of dead steer. Of the three variations, this was probably the least bold in terms of flavor; for fast food adventurers who don't like any surprises, this is probably your best bet heading into the Great Quesarito-Off of 2014.

Next up is the beef version. As expected, it was extremely greasy, even on the outside of the tortilla. Of the three, it definitely felt the lightest.

I'd have to say this was my least favorite of the trio. For one, it didn't feel as if there was anywhere near as much rice chunked into the 'rito,  and the overall cheese and sour cream quotient felt pretty low, too. Nobody will ever hail Taco Bell for having the best ground beef in the world, so however you feel about it in normal Bell offerings will probably swing your overall impression of this item.

The shredded chicken Quesarito was definitely the heaviest of the three permutations, and smelled the weirdest, too. It almost smelled like Texas Pete, but then again, I guess anytime you combine poultry with chipotle sauce, that shit's going to end up smelling like hot sauce, no matter what.

This one was probably my favorite, because there appeared to be way more sour cream and sauce tossed into the goulash. I've never been a big fan of chicken, but this one certainly outdid both the steak and beef versions. The nacho cheese also seemed to gel the best with this one: overall, I'd say this is probably the best way to experience the Quesarito...that is, until the Bell inevitably wheels out their special Doritos Locos Tacos Quesarito. With chunks of grounded up waffle taco in it.

All in all, I thought Taco Bell's stab at Quesaritoes wasn't half-bad. They probably won't become anybody's favorite menu item, and their longevity as an offering is definitely suspect, but as a quick meal, circa July 2014? These things will do you quite well, especially if you are already fat, really sweaty, and not just giving a damn about most things anymore. Which, I know, is pretty much everybody reading this right now.

The big question now, I reckon, is obvious: will Chipotle strike back by trotting out THEIR version of the much-requested old school Taco Bell enchirito this autumn?

Stay tuned, fast food Tex-Mex enthusiasts: things are starting to get very interesting around these parts...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

B-Movie Review: "Prayer of the Rollerboys" (1990)

It's an early 1990s, no-budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi skatesploitation flick about white supremacist roller bladers, who can only be stopped by COREY HAIM. And believe it or's freaking awesome.

The late 1980s and early 1990s were definitely the heyday of great, politically conscious, independent sci-fi movies. While films like "Hardware" and even "The Class of 1999" have since gone on to become minor cult classics, the flick "Prayer of the Rollerboys" remains an ultra-obscure offering, seemingly forgotten by time itself. And it's a pity, too, because the movie is actually pretty damn great, standing out as one of the best-written, and best-acted, no-budget, Game Boy-punk films from the era.

The film begins with a rollerblading montage, which is contrasted by the visage of Rollerboys ringleader Gary Lee on an old CRT television set. While young whippersnappers watch his video in rapt awe, he drones on and on about how their greedy parents caused the "Great Crash" by over-borrowing; just keep in mind folks, this film came out SEVENTEEN years before Lehman Brothers bite the big one. We watch a bunch of street urchins digging through dumpsters and selling old coffee makers on the street. "Forget your parents," the mysterious Gary Lee tells the impressionable youths via the magic of VCR. In a world where "alien forces" control the US and kids are routinely ushered into relocation camps, he assures us "the Day of the Rope is coming." The video pans out, and Mr. Lee is seen rocking your standard late '80s power suit. 

After that, we're introduced to Griffin, who is played by Corey Haim. He's a pizza delivery boy, who carries an AK-47 with him to drop off calzones in what is tantamount to a Southern California warzone. When he's not risking life and limb to provide others with breadsticks, he likes to hang out with Casey (played by Patricia Arquette) and his younger brother Milton at a scummy bicycle repair shop, which is owned by an old black gentleman named "Speedbag." 

From straight-to-video superstar to selling his own teeth on eBay in just ten years. Tis a pity, Haimster.

En route to his latest delivery at the local concentration camp, we see homeless folks on the street, watching television while sucking down a new wave drug called "Mist." Griff takes time out of his schedule to rescue some kids from a burning house, where an impromptu gun fight unfurls. The police show up and rough him up a bit, and the pizza chain owner is none too pleased that Griffy-boy messed the company van up so badly. 

While doing some recreational bladin' in a not-that-deserted parking lot, Griff runs (err, skates) into the Rollerboys, with Gary Lee telling him that he's now under the group's "protection." 

The next day, a brand new van shows up at Griff's workplace, which makes the company owner -- who looks JUST LIKE Carl from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force -- very ecstatic. Meanwhile, on a random newscast, we learn that Harvard has, brick-by-brick, been relocated to Hiroshima, while scores of US workers have just been deported out of Mexico. 

Then, the Rollerboys visit Speedbag's shop, and warn him about paying them their tributes. Griff then attends an official Rollerboy soiree, which involves lots of Jell-O wrestling and Nine Inch Nails. Casey tries to seduce Griff into getting her some Mist, but he then winds up getting chased down by some undercover cops, which leads to a gang infiltration discussion with the po-po chief. 

These two guys are EASILY the whitest white supremacists in history.

As it turns out, Casey is actually an undercover cop herself, who is trying to get to the bottom of the whole Mist distribution racket. Oh, and its made explicit to us that the Rollerboys are also hardcore white supremacists, although all of them have shockingly Michael Bolton-esque coifs for alleged Neo-Nazis. 

After Milton sells drugs to a wealthy Japanese businessman (I guess if the film was remade today, it would be a Han investment banker instead) a truck chase/shootout unfurls, with Griff being saved by one of the Rollerboys. Fearing for Milton's life, Griff agrees to become a mole for the police; at the Rollerboys palatial mansion hideout, we learn that Germany just bought Poland and that the Israeli Defense Force helped Ireland with their little IRA problem. 

As part of the Rollerboy initiation rites, Griff has to safely blade through a militarized zone. Of course, Griff bests another recruit, whom is then promptly shot by Gary for failing "the test." The gang then holds a huge swearing-in ceremony, where Gary goes on and on about "The Day of the Rope." 

The Rollerboys visit Griff's pizza shop, and rough up the owner. We then learn that the Rollerboys operate a mobile soup kitchen, where they hand out propaganda in the form of comic books. Apparently, they also have investments in municipal bonds and power plants, too. Griff and Gary then drive through an old naval yard, which is now the gang's secret bae for cooking up drugs. Gary tells Griff that plant security guards have excellent pension plans, and that if he sticks around long enough, he'll give him yen to attend college. 

Knowing that Griff istight  in with the Rollerboys, Speedbag makes him move his RV off his front lawn. And then, much to Griff's dismay, he finds his younger bro stoned out of his mind on Mist. Then Gary and Casey talk about the sting operation, and Casey's back-up make bets on whether or not she'll put out (she doesn't.)

Following a camp raid, Casey tells Griff about how her brother joined the gang and got killed. Then, Milton gets popped on a drug test (yes, this is a straight-edge white supremacist organization we appear to be dealing with) and Speedbag does a soliloquy on the allure of evil.
Then the Rollerboys beat the crap out of a masked victim, and what do you know, it's Speedbag himself!

...but yeah, they'seen worse. Both of them

So Griff and Milton decide to escape, and Griff finally lays Casey. One of the Rollerboys, named Bullwinkle, finds out that Griff is mole, but before he can waste him, Casey's back up storms in and blows him away. 

In the next scene, Gary quizzes Griff about Bullwinkle's death, and offers him a position as a kitchen cook at the naval yard. Then, it's revealed what the "Day of the Rope" actually is; a non-disclosed, yet upcoming, date in which the gang starts pumping a special variation of the drug with chemically castrating properties into the city streets. Cue a drug cooking montage (complete with five-year-olds getting their fix) as undercover cops snake their way into the compound. Gary and his cooking partner get into a duel to the death, and its revealed that Casey's back-up cops are corrupt as fuck. Of course, the real cops then show up and start pumping everybody full of lead, with Gary ultimately deciding to take Milton as a hostage. With a pistol at his side, Gary tries to make a getaway, while Griff chases after him on his roller skates -- making the film's denouement, more or less, a live action version of the final stage in "Skate or Die 2."

And so, Gary is apprehended, while Griff, Milton, Casey and Speedbag decide to hitch up their RV and move to the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Gary -- whose jail cell has its own accountant -- continues to run the gang from inside the slammer, with his first business move as incarcerated CEO being the expansion of services guessed it...the Pacific Northwest. And...fade to black

While the film ends on an obvious sequel hook, we're sadly still waiting for "Prayer of the Rollerboys 2" to come to fruition. Despite picking up a nod for best sci-fi movie at the 1990 Saturn Awards (in addition to non-stop airings at 3 in the morning on Cinemax for a good part of the 1990s), the film never really attained cult status, which is a shame, since it truly is one of the more inventive little genre pics to come out in the post-Reagan, pre-Clinton dead zone. 

The flick was directed by a guy named Rick King, who is probably best known for directing a couple of the "Kickboxer" movies. The script was ironed out by a guy named W. Peter Iliff, who in addition to having the most UFC-sounding name of any non-UFC fighter ever, is also responsible for writing a whole shit load of movies, such as "Point Break," "Patriot Games" and "Varsity Blues." 

As far as the bit players are concerned, not too many people (except for Patricia Arquette) really went on to have much a career after this. Mark Pellegrino, who played dope kitchen cook Bongo, was in "The Big Lebowski" and "National Treasure," which, yes, is a MUCH better post-"Rollerboys" filmography than Haim's. And if Gary looks oddly familiar to you, he should: the actor's name is Chris Collet, and holy hell, he played Paul in the first "Sleepaway Camp" movie!

I really can't say enough good things about this movie. It's smart, sharp, and fairly gripping, without ever becoming too full of itself or reaching beyond its straight-to-video capabilities. It has a script that's way more intelligent than it had any right to be and the acting is definitely far above average for a genre flick from the era. "Prayer of the Rollerboys" is really the best kind of B-movie, the kind that surprises you with its authenticity and competency. Regardless of its lowly genre ambitions, this is a great B-movie that comes dangerously close to being a flat out great movie in its own right. 

Three and a half stars. Jimbo definitely says check it out. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Restaurant Review: Aurelio's Is Pizza (Marietta, Ga.)

Looking for quality deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza in the metro Atlanta area? Here's a fairly hidden haunt well worth paying a visit to. 

Considering all of the food-related entries on this blog, I suppose it's not all that surprising that people periodically ask me what my absolute favorite meal is. Although there are plenty of top notch candidates -- ranging from White Trash Veggie Chili Dogs to Quinoa-Stuffed Jack O'Lantern Bell Peppers to Spa-Chili to homemade marshmallow treats comprised of the big three General Mills Monster Cereals -- if I had to pick just one food to list as my bona-fide favorite, I'd probably have to go with Chicago-style pizza.

Oh, sauce-drenched, deep dish pizza; I could pretty much eat the shit morning, noon and night for the next 12 years and never get tired of it. As a matter of fact, if my life was a 16-bit platformer video game, all of the power ups would probably be thick crust slices. With maybe a bottle of Mountain Dew Code Red serving as hyper-speed item. 

The problem is, I don't live in a mecca like New York or Chicago, where such delicious deep dish offerings are widely available. Instead, I live in Atlanta, where most of the pizzas are thin crust joints operated by northern transplants who, despite being able to whip up some damn delicious white pizzas, really aren't what I would call stuffed pizza experts

Strangely enough, there was a national franchise that popped up just feet away from my place, which did have astonishingly decent deep dish pies. Yet late last fall -- around the same time a whole shit load of other Gen Y baiting beer halls  in the area mysteriously vanished -- my go-to Chicago-style pizza hook-up closed shop, leaving behind an ominous red and yellow house of sauce stained sorrows

Really, really hankering for some extra saucy pizza lately, I decided to embark upon a mini-mission of late to find the best damn deep dish pie in the Atlanta region. Considering Atlanta is home to one of the ten largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the nation, you would think that finding pizza shops that cater to deep dish aficionados would be fairly easy. As far as restaurants that specifically hail their own deep dish pies, however, I counted up a paltry handful in the ENTIRE metro-Atlanta area. Keep in mind, this is a geographic area of more than FIVE MILLION people -- you'd think that more than ten of those motherfuckers would know how to make a deep dish, but you sir, would be wrong as hell. 

After some Internet sleuthing, I found this one place out in Marietta (an Atlanta suburb that we here at THE INTERNET IS IN AMERICA have covered before) called Aurelio's is Pizza. As one of the few Google-indexed pizzerias that chart a top spot for "Atlanta deep dish" searches, I immediately took a liking to this here establishment: if not for their logo (which looks just like a British footy club emblem), for the restaurant's namesake: I mean, anything that harks back to a 15-year-old Chris Jericho catachphrase is A-OK with me, after all. 

The restaurant is saddled in a strip mall parking lot, where it's nestled snug between a tapas bar and a bird watching supply store. (Aside: Just how much damned equipment does one need to watch birds, anyway?) I went on a Saturday night, which you would EXPECT to be the happeningest night of the week, but much to my surprise, the eatery was virtually vacant. The lonesome ambiance was pretty neat, thought, as it gave the entire restaurant sort of a gloomy, quasi-romantic New York vibe. If you're looking for an atmospheric, yet reserved pizzeria -- and perhaps a place to watch Oklahoma City Thunder playoff games in solitude -- Aurelio's seems to be right up your alley. 

I really dug the in-house posters. There are a lot a photos of the establishment founder, who looks just like the kind of guy you'd expect to have shot a whole lot of people during Prohibition. I had a particular fondness for this one, though, which laid out the pizza pie sizes like they were planets in ascending order from Mercury to Jupiter. As you can see, the Aurelio's pies range from four slice personal pizzas all the way to gargantuan 36-slice monstrosities which I am assuming have to be baked in a volcanic lair or something. You KNOW the establishment has huge-assed pizzas when the waiter tells you what you just ordered was too big and asks you to pick something else. 

As far as the menu goes, it looked to have quite a bit of awesome-sounding entrees, but tonight, I had just one thing on my mind: a damned deep dish pizza, and soon. Electing to skip over the more eclectic toppings (your pineapple and banana pepper chunks, namely), I instead vouched for a fairly traditional black olive and mushroom-stuffed pizza. Admittedly, the crew took their sweet time rolling out the final item, but trust me...this shit was definitely worth waiting for.

LOOK AT THAT SAUCE! Even as medium-sized pie, this thing was ridiculously huge. It was more than enough for two people, even when one of those two people is an amateur competitive eater like me.

The cheese was freaking outstanding, and the crust was really something else. As we all know, it doesn't matter how good your pizza is, as long as you have crummy dough, you're going to end up with disappointment. Well, the guys at Aurelio's really know how to dream up a delicious crust, and it was really among the best pizza bases I've ever tasted. And on top of that (literally) the sauce was a nearly perfect balance of zesty and tangy. Yeah, my wanting of a true deep dish pie for so long probably made me a bit biased here, but there's no denying this stuff is, in every sense of the word, fucking incredible.

The slices, it should probably be noted, are also comically oversized. Most pizza slices are usually hand-sized, but I'm pretty sure this one was equivalent to the length of my head, from crown to chin. I'm a dude who can eat a LOT of food in one sitting, but I was no match for this colossal serving. I actually went home with THREE extra slices, and that was with help from a second muncher!

Without question, "Aurelio's is Pizza" is freaking fantastic, and everybody in the world should go eat there. Even people who are lactose intolerant; I assure you, the extreme diarrhea is worth the trip. And as any truly great pizza would, it definitely passes the "breakfast test" -- as an early morning warm-over, the pie was every bit as good as it was fresh out of the kiln. 

So, long story short? "Aurelio's" is a damn great pizza joint, and if you live within 500 miles of it, you probably need to stop by at least once. And also, the management needs to give me free pizza for life.

I mean, shit, could you possibly imagine a better public endorsement than this review? It's the absolute least they could do for me...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review: "Free" by Chris Anderson (2009)

As the costs of digital distribution fall toward zero, how can companies and content creators turn profits? According to the former "WIRED" editor and current drone manufacturer...they can't. 

In "Free: the Future of a Radical Price," Chris Anderson -- the former WIRED EIC -- doesn't take long at all to establish the book's central thesis: that, with the proliferation of the Internet and digital distribution channels, we're now living in an epoch in which a deflationary economy anchored around bits has completely triumphed over the old world order of inflationary economies anchored around atoms -- that being, tangible, real-world goods.

With a net annual deflation rate of about 50 percent, Anderson postulates that all cyberspace goods are destined to halve in price every single year. Citing Monty Python, the decline of transistor prices, early Jell-O advertising gimmicks and the pioneering "freebie" promotions of King Gillette -- who, it is perhaps worth noting, penned a weird-ass urban supremacist manifesto/unrealized "Bioshock" game called "The Human Drift" in 1894 -- Anderson feels that it's only natural that online-centric manufacturers and retailers today would flock towards new wave "freemiums" to sustain their own operations.

Via direct cross-subsidies -- "loss leaders" like popcorn generating revenue in lieu of fundamentally free films and ongoing annuities, like "free" phones with two-year subscriber contracts replacing point-of-sale streams -- Anderson argues that there is already a template readily available for online companies to base their own "free" models upon. In fact, Anderson rattles off several variations for us, including segmented markets -- basically, a "progressive tax" that allows women to get free drinks at clubs and kids to eat free at Sunday buffets -- tiered content (Flickr vs. Flickr Pro is the example he uses in the book) and even emerging "non-monetary markets" like zero-cost "gift economy" distribution networks (read: free Wiki articles) and even "labor exchange" relationships (which Anderson illustrates in the book with the example of porn sites that give you free nudity in exchange for helping them figure out CAPTCHA puzzles.)

Early, early on in "Free," Anderson introduces to something he calls the "Five Percent Rule" -- that being, this idea that just five percent of online service users will offset the business losses of 95 percent of the same online services's users not paying anything at all. And then, he immediately brings up how piracy murder-death-killed the music industry, providing us with the first of many, many in-text contradictions that should make us wonder a plenty about Mr. Anderson's allegedly beneficial "free-to-all" Tao. Furthermore, his citing of negative pricing business models -- like bands playing clubs to perform and gyms in Europe that, as long as you don't miss any weekly visits, have free memberships -- seem more like fanciful asides than genuine advice for start-up operations.

From there, Anderson gives us a history of "free," letting us know, for some reason, that the Catholic Church once condemned interest rates and that the Koran has a decisively anti-usury bent. He goes on for a bit about Paul Ehrlich's wrong-ass predictions, Kroptokin's "Mutual Aid," the Dunbar Number and New York's  Raines Law, before seguing into a passage about ASCAP and BMI and how the Haber-Bosch Process lead to the "Green Revolution" of the 1960s. If you're wondering what this stuff has to do with "freemium" business models -- well, that makes two of us, naturally.

After some shit about "corn economies" and "disposable cultures," he says that America fully embraced the "Law of Conservation of Attractive Profits" sometime in the 1950s, indicating a shift from resource processing to service jobs. Today's "symbolic analysts," he tells us, are nothing more than yesterday's farmers and manufacturers in pursuit of scarcity.

Comparing The Village Voice to The Onion, he describes how free woks as an "evolutionary stable strategy." He later rephrases the statement, with the sardonic aphorism "you can't fall off the floor."

From there, it is aside city for a good fifty pages. We learn about Kopelman's "Penny Gap," The Sample Lab! International Model, a 2007 French union lawsuit against Amazon, Mead's Compound Learning Curve and some dude named John Draper, who is perhaps most notable for having the nickname "Captain Crunch." Then, Anderson makes the somewhat controversial claim that piracy actually creates user dependency, which in turn, lowers adoption costs. Which, fittingly enough, is a great transition point to a conversation about the positive aspects of de-monetization.

The Internet, described by Anderson as a "liquidity machine," allows individuals to make money by shrinking markets. You see, free turns "$1 billion industries" into "$1 million industries" by wealth redistribution, which in turn creates more efficient markets. Of course, with lower entry barriers, he lets us know its pretty goddamn hard to turn a profit under such a system, and that more often than not, the model just results in the rich getting richer, but is still somehow good, I think?

Anderson then rattles off a fairly agreeable list as to why paid content is deader than Elvis, and then gives us a primer on impression models. Interestingly, he uses the video game market as his case study for industries that have "benefit" from freemium models, and praises Derek Webb for his "data-mining" approach to fan outreach. Oh, and he kind of glosses over how selling visitor data to third parties has become something of a monetization model, but SHHH!

With "quasi-currencies" like views and Facebook likes taken into consideration, Anderson said the market for "free" was about $300 billion in 2009 dollars. As such, he said that more and more organizations find themselves competing in non-monetary markets, where "attention" and "reputation" are considered as good as actual revenue. Except, uh, people aren't actually making money off this shit, which is the gigantic elephant turd in the punch bowl Anderson doesn't have the bait and tackle to come out and tell us.

In China and Brazil, he talks about how piracy culture has led to some innovative underground markets -- chiefly, an emerging "fake receipt" economy. And then, he lets us know that the "walls" between editorial and business boards in the journalism industry have been yanked down, and as such, we're all the worse for it.

Giving us some bullshit about "the tragedy of the commons," he tells us that many content creators will now have to look for indirect revenue streams -- like consulting, lecturing and blogs -- to stay afloat financially. Even heavy hitters like Facebook and YouTube have ongoing revenue problems, he said: pretty much putting a big, fat ~ next to his ENTIRE goddamn argument, he lets us know that, in a recession, "free can't be the only model" if organizations want to survive.

Below are Anderson's Ten Principles of Abundance Thinking, with my thoughts in red.

  1. Digital things will ultimately be free. (which means unless you can't eat it or print it out yourself, you're pretty much in a fucked market.)
  2. Products of physical goods make core products free by selling other stuff. (also, you can make more money if you work more than one job, too.)
  3. Selling upgrades to free products can combat piracy. (except for when it doesn't, which is all the fucking time.) 
  4. Free opens the door to charging consumers. (too bad he never explicitly tells us how to make that leap, though) 
  5. You can sell around free services. (which means you're working two jobs, only one of which involves you actually getting paid for something.) 
  6. You HAVE to be "free" before your competitors. (but what happens when ALL of your competitors are giving away stuff for free, though?)
  7. Eventually, you will be competing with free, anyway. (oh, OK. But wait, how am I supposed to be making money off this shit again?)
  8. You need to stop metering things that are too cheap to meter. (which under a free model, is your ENTIRE model.) 
  9. Value will always migrate to the next higher layer when free becomes the norm. (so what's the FUCKING point of even being free to begin with?)
  10. You should always manage for abundance, not scarcity. (translation: learn to deal with being poor.) 

Personally, I prefer Biggie's "Ten Crack Commandments," but I guess there is more sagacity in that top ten than asininity, I will admit. Then again, the fundamental rub with Anderson's entire shtick is that, compared to free, ANY financial gain is automatically profitable, so really -- what's the point with all this, again?

When I picked up "Free," I was expecting a fairly conventional primer on how upstarts could leverage temporarily free, entry-level services into more sustainable revenue models. Instead, what I got was some bullshit about how free boasts visibility and facilitates future user adoption, conveniently leaving out how a service would successfully shift from free to paid models in between. Free, this asshole keeps telling us, will pave the way to truly lucrative business models in the future, but he never even gets anywhere close to establishing a solid system for services to make that very transition. The shit icing on the turd cake was when he used journalism as a case study of sorts; you see, journalists, in the absence of traditional papers, can still make money as consultant editors for non-professional, hyper-local websites, he cheerily tells us. Of course, he never brings up the abject failure of AOL's Patch service, which was more or less that very model.

I'm not sure if I want to call Anderson an opportunist -- or better yet, a piss-poor speculator -- but "Free" is a book that feels far, far removed from reality. Maybe his ideas would gel in very, very small commerce sectors, but the tips and tactics outlined in this book aren't going to save any upstart business from insolvency. Really, the core thesis of "Free" can be summed up as "don't plan on making money, so that if you incidentally make money, it'll be awesome."

That's not a business strategy, Mr. Anderson. Hell, that's not even a halfway viable business ideal. There are some interesting ideas in "Free," but nothing that has any import on today's e-commerce world, I am afraid.

But at the end of the day, I will at least give some of Anderson's theories about "free" products some praise. After all, I picked up my copy of the book -- irony of ironies -- because a local retailer just wanted to get rid of surplus copies on the shelves.

That's right: I didn't pay a single cent for "Free." And to be honest? I still feel like I paid too much for it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

100 People You Should DEFINITELY Ignore

Some individuals are well worth listening to. Here's a brief list of the kind of people who most certainly are not.

001. English majors, talking about anything other than English.

002. ANYBODY wearing a sandwich board, of any kind.

003. Guys with a tendency to preface an inordinate number of statements with the phrase "now, I'm no expert..."

004. Anybody who is concerned about something after being "enlightened" by a YouTube video.

005. People who wear shirts with whole sentences written on them.

006. Gender studies professors.

007. People who say they have exclusive information that was "suppressed" by the government.

008. Anyone who claims to have graduated from "the School of Hard Knocks."

009. 99.8 percent of white rappers.

010. For some inexplicable reason, almost all dudes whose first name is either Darryl or Duane.

011. Any advocate for home schooling.

012. Anyone who actually uses the term "cisgender."

013. People who, at any point in time, have owned Yosemite Sam mudflaps.

014. The proprietors of any stores that have the word "shoppe" in their title.

015. Any self-described iconoclast.

016. ANYBODY clearly wearing two different kinds of flip-flops at the same time.

017. Most anybody who regularly frequents record shops.

018. People who use their workplace website photo as their Facebook profile pic.

019. Paleo dieters.

020. Anybody who claims to "love" science.

021. Anyone carrying a bullhorn with bumper stickers on it.

022. People dressed up like Japanese cartoon characters, anywhere at anytime for any reason.

023. People that actually say the words "indeed" and "furthermore" in casual conversation.

024. White people who try to sound like they're actually speaking Spanish when ordering Mexican food.

025. People who think they "ought to run for office someday."

People who publicly advertise their want of sexual favors in exchange for mundane acts of charity: TRUSTWORTHY. 

026. People who have a heavy metal band's logo tattooed somewhere on their body.

027. People who say they went to college to "find themselves."

028. Any Caucasian couple who give their children ostentatiously ethnic-sounding first names.

029. Representatives from any organization that has "Jesus" in its title.

030. People who proudly wear clothing with the anarchy symbol on it.

031. Anybody who brags about making homemade jewelry.

032. Guys who claim to know what "good beer" really tastes like.

033. People who actually play badminton.

034. Any person wearing a hoodie and sunglasses simultaneously.

035. People who brag about the results of their STD tests.

036. People who feel the need to randomly whistle.

037. Individuals who pride themselves on being "semi-fluent" in other languages.

038. Guys who are convinced that certain foods tasted differently ten years ago.

039. Anyone who thinks jokes about bacon are actually funny.

040. Anybody who has a zombie sticker on their car.

041. People who constantly remind you not to pronounce the silent letters in their name.

042. Anyone who has used the phrase "taken to its logical conclusion" at any point in their lives.

043. People who try to give you homemade remedies for acne treatment.

044. People who are only into Major League Baseball.

045. People who just have to remind you that they're in the process of "quitting smoking."

046. People who shop while listening to their iPods.

047. Guys who actually call radio stations to request songs.

048. Anyone who says they are a "patron of the fine arts."

049. People who, for some inexplicable reason, are adamant that you always use coasters.

050. People who use the term "they" as a vague noun, especially in reference to an unexplained collective-authority. For example: "They say them video games is what's turning all them kids into school shooters."

In this photograph alone, I can spot at least seven things that would most likely make this individual an unreliable source of information. How many can you detect, dear reader?

051. People that are really into college sports teams, when they themselves never actually attended said college. Bonus points if they've never attended any college, for that matter.

052. People who, for some reason, have plastic wrapped sporks in their kitchen drawers.

053. People who never tell you what their initials stand for. Case in point: Mr. T.

054. Those who take great pride in being "nerdy."

055. People who laugh like the alien warrior from "Predator."

056. Small town journalists.

057. Individuals who are really into graffiti -- the paler their complexion, the further you should stay away from them.

058. ANYONE handing out pamphlets that aren't Chinese restaurant menus or fliers about furniture store sales.

059. Girls with really pronounced gum lines.

060. Barnes and Noble cashiers, especially when they start telling you about other books they think you'd like.

061. Anyone into Eastern Mysticism who isn't an Eastern Mystic.

062. Guys holding brooms, mops, rakes or other implements welded to wooden poles, whom address you with the sentence "Hey buddy, listen here for a minute."

063. People who literally begin and end all of their sentences with the word "man."

064. Individuals who carefully enunciate commas when they speak.

065. Any woman who self-identifies as a "BBW."

066. People fatter than you, talking about exercise regiments.

067. Anybody who stops to spit while conversing with you.

068. Guys who quote "Big Trouble in Little China."

069. ANYONE who brings up pleather, for any reason and at any juncture.

070. Those who think awkwardness is charming.

071. People who like to speak in alliteration.

072. Anyone into organic farming.

073. Anybody who tries to strike up a conversation with you while using a public bathroom.

074. People who attend sporting events, wearing jerseys that aren't of the two teams playing.

075. Anybody who points a lot.

If anyone you know has written erotic fan fiction, odds are they're probably not the best people to seek advice from.

076. People who really like news stories about home invaders getting shot.

077. Pretty much anyone that uses the term "welfare queen."

078. People who DON'T think the first "Rocky" movie was the best one.

079. Fans of science fiction literature.

080. Anyone inside a Spencer's Gifts store.

081. People who like to talk about injuries they've had since "way back when."

082. Fruit vendors who misspell "fruit" on their signage.

083. The owners of businesses that prominently display animated neon signs.

084. People on the comment section of any national news organization's website.

085. Anyone with a pronounced dislike of gypsies.

086. Anybody even remotely associated with bars that use the word "nigger" for advertisement purposes.

087. People who tell you they're going to blog about things, but then never do.

088. Anyone championing an "all-natural" therapy or remedy, of any kind.

089. People always complaining about the "urbanization" of America.

090. People who wear sunglasses indoors -- ain't none of us got any time for any "K-Pax" motherfuckers on this planet, pal.

091. Anyone who enjoys thoroughly describing to you what their last bowl movement was like.

092. Dumbass parents who let their elementary schoolers have YouTube accounts.

093. Anyone who has aspirations of "taking the country back."

094. Anyone with a fondness for interpretive dance.

095. People who are convinced that at least half of all the U.S. presidents were actually alien lizard monsters.

096. Guys wearing burlap sacks over their heads, perhaps wielding a chainsaw or perhaps not.

097. People selling anything with the word meat encircled by suspiciously pronounced quotation marks.

098. Any guest on "The Maury Povich Show."

099. Colloidal silver salespeople.

100. People who run niche-interest humor blogs.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ignoring the Biggest Problem in American Society?

Why Americans’ Dependency on Subordinate Identity is probably the Root Cause of All Evils in Contemporary U.S. Society 

“The ones that love us least, are the ones we’ll die to please, if it’s any consolation, I don’t begin to understand them…”

-- The Replacements
Bastards of Young” (1984)

Many, many years ago, I had a particularly shitty office job. Through some sort of great cosmological fluke, I got a position at a small town airport, which as fate would have it, was owned by some sort of eccentric millionaire racecar-driver wannabe. One year, everybody at the airport decided to throw the owner a birthday surprise, which -- and I swear I’m not making this up -- was a custom-made golf cart. So I’m standing there, wearing my little red uniform, just looking aimlessly in front of me, while everybody else in the hangar -- also wearing their stupid little red uniforms -- sported mile-wide smiles and had jubilant gleams in their eyes. When it came time to sing Mr. Owner “Happy Birthday,” my coworkers were belting out the lyrics with the gusto of the French freedom fighters singing “La Marseillaise” in “Casablanca.” These people were genuinely enthusiastic and excited about the moment; and at was at that moment, I do believe, that I fully understood how Nazi Germany came to exist.

America, in case you haven’t noticed, seems to have a lot of problems. For the longest time, social scientists (aka, shitheads with university tenure that don’t know what they’re talking about) have looked at all of these assorted cultural problems as isolated things, with hardly any intellectual of note pinpointing an American weltanschauung as the root cause of all our social maladies. Well folks, an American Way of Life -- which completely supersedes a regional way of life, or an ethnic way of life, or a socioeconomic way of life -- does indeed exist, and if you want to know why virtually every single problem in the nation exists, from overweight kindergartners to school shooters to absentee fathers to insider trading, it all harks back to this central truth of American existence: it’s our subordinate identities, and only our subordinate identities, that fuel us as social individuals, in turn shaping our perspectives and decision-making more than any other core variable, be it religion, political ideology or even ethno-racial backgrounds.

In short? Who we are, what we think and what we do is more or less wholly dictated by how connected we feel to those who have power over us. Generally, the closer we feel to being on our boss’s “good side,” the better we feel about our lot in life, and the more we feel as if we are on our employer’s shit list, the worse we feel about ourselves and humanity as a whole. A good sub-theorem to add to the equation is this: more or less our entire personalities and core characteristics  are decided by how close we are to our respective overlords, or how closely we perceive ourselves to be to our respective overlords -- be they middle managers, rock bands we worship, or even the disassociative majoritarianism of the Internet itself.

OK, this is a lot of stuff to digest, and I know, it sounds a little abstract at first. But stick with me here; this stuff will all make way more sense than you want it to in just a minute.

Let’s begin by addressing a word we hear all the goddamn time, especially when conversations about the alleged “American Character” arise: individuality. Now, individuality is probably the most overly-romanticized (meaning “fraudulent“) ideal in human history, as the collective forces of our respective culture more or less steamroll us into uniform shapes no matter how “against the grain” we like to consider ourselves. Even the most hardcore anarchistic, militant Libertarians still live lives that are culturally enforced -- they wear clothes when they go outside, the take jobs to make money so they can by stuff the TV tells them to and they live in houses they take out loans to purchase. Sure, they may claim to be rugged individuals by proxy of their political convictions, but at the end of the day, they look, sound, and act like everybody else. In today’s America, “counter culture” is an absolute impossibility; unless you’re a complete Luddite (by religious choice, such as the Amish, or by cultural mandate, such as the registered sex offenders that have to live in woodland encampments) you are very much a part of the system, so to speak, regardless of your (relatively insignificant) sociopolitical or philosophical “principles.”

Of course, as individuals that really aren’t individuals at all, we try to come up with ways to make ourselves feel different from everybody else. If you’re a really shallow Goth kid, you might dye your hair blue or pierce your anus or something, and if you’re a middle-aged, median-income suburban dad, you might get hair implants or go out and buy a sports car. The idea here is pretty much the same; to differentiate ourselves from the cookie cutter masses, we vouch for aesthetic (and thus, easily observable) alterations that allegedly make us “stand out from the crowd.” The problem here is pretty apparent; you may look different from everybody else, but what do you know, you still sound, act and think the same way as everyone around you. Your outer shell may be different, but on the inside? You’re just the same as everybody else around you.

Naturally, this leads to the second phase of “individual” reassessment, which usually involves the adoption of some ideology or philosophy that supposedly makes one “better” or “superior” to his or her peers. If you promote any religious or political cause, no matter how asinine, this is PRECISELY what you’re doing. The quest for meaning, in a lot of ways, is nothing more than the quest for a distinct identity, and by absorbing the tenets of some pre-existing ideology -- which seeks to explain everything while positing just about every tangible and abstract construct you can think of as obviously righteous or obviously wrongheaded -- you’re basically taking the shortest walking trail to “individuality” as a cultural inhabitant. So, even though you look, act and live like everybody else around you, you are now privy to some kind of greater knowledge that makes you distinct as a cultural system member. But, uh, what happens when you find yourself among a crowd of individuals who share, vaunt and celebrate that same “greater truth” that makes you such a special little snowflake?

Well, shit. You can always take the “holier than thou” approach and claim that you’ve got this super-special ideological thing right while everybody else who professes to have the super-special ideological thing right is actually wrong -- thus explaining why we have both Protestants and Catholics, to a large degree -- or you can instead find individual value within a certain hierarchical position within said group ethos that you, and ideally you alone, occupy.

And that brings us to the concept of “occupational identity,” which is really the most important identity framer we as an American peoples have. In general, the first thing we ask a person we meet is “what do you do for a living?” -- a question that seeks not to uncover what a person’s ideological beliefs or area of expertise is, but really, what his or her organizational rank happens to be. A lot of times, the response isn’t even a direct duty; for example, one may reply “I work for (insert tech company here)” instead of saying “I’m a computer programmer,” or that “I work for (insert firm here)” instead of “I’m a C.P.A.” or something along those lines. Essentially, one’s primary occupational task doesn’t matter; what matters is which organization does that person perform that task for, and much, much more importantly, what is the individual in question’s hierarchical value to said organization? I imagine conversations of the like transpiring all the time at social mixers:

Individual A: So, what do you do for a living?

Individual B: I work for AT&T.

Individual A: What do you do at AT&T?

Individual B: I’m a data management systems specialist.

Individual A: Ok.

Individual B: An assistant data management systems specialist, to be more precise.

In a nutshell, that tells you everything you need to know about that person as a social system inhabitant. Their employer denotes their line of work (which is a proxy for their socioeconomic standing and educational background), their position denotes their hierarchical company status, and -- this is the key point to all of this, readers -- their proximity to positions of power denotes the sum of their cultural import. If you run your own company, you’re big shit; if you’re an assistant to the person who runs his or her own company, you’re not as big shit, but comparably, you’re still pretty big shit. The pecking order hardly needs any elucidation: a VP is bigger shit than a regional manager, but a regional manager is bigger shit than a department manager, who is bigger shit than a staffer, who is bigger shit than the entry-level guys, etc.

This infrastructural rank has become the most important -- and in many ways, the sole defining -- element of who we are as individual Americans. All of who and what we are -- our values, our hopes, our dreams, our longings -- can hence be boiled down to simply where we stand within our respective occupational (*) bases. Anything else, the culture at large tells us, is simply irrelevant.

(*) And just to make this a little more comprehensive, when I refer to “occupational” here, I am explicitly referring to any sort of group system that an individual feels as if he or she contributes to AND derives a sense of identity from. So this could feasibly extend to MMORPG clans, message boards or any other kind of online community, in general.

In America, our work defines us. We obsess over it, we worry about it, and in many ways, our employer becomes our new parents -- our providers, our mentors, our disciplinarians. In many ways, the name of the game here isn’t to really succeed in one’s field, but to succeed in one’s company -- that is, assume some real, or some perceived, importance and then fight like hell to maintain it. Where one is, organizationally, then becomes a de facto self cause -- one’s utmost social reason for existence. That, and that alone, probably explains why so many people shoot up their workplaces; because when the workplace slights them, it’s a slight against everything they believe they are as human beings.

But let’s take it even further; for organizational rank, I think we abandon all of our core scruples as human beings. I mean, every last one of them. For a pay raise (and with it, the associated institutional upgrade), I think most Americans would have no problem performing oral sex on their boss, be it male or female. Despite all of that vaunting of the “sanctity of marriage,” I’d venture to guess that for organizational prestige, most Americans would similarly sleep with a coworker, if it meant intra-company advancement, to some degree. Trust me, there’s a reason why a term like “work spouse” even exists in the first place.

The average American cares more about work than he does his family, for sure. Of course, nobody will come out and say that, but we all know it’s the truth. Just look at Sandy Hook and Columbine; so engrossed were the parents of those school shooters in their lines of work, they were completely blinded to the reality of who their own children were. Methinks if Daddy Lanza or Daddy Klebold had spent just a wee bit more time talking to their kids instead of scrolling through spreadsheets at corporate HQ, maybe, just maybe, we’d have a few less caskets in the ground today.

Whatever identity we think we have is subsumed in the organizational identity. Like the eponymous “Blob,” our worker identity digest everything in its path, until we’re a bunch of shapeless, formless globs of animated -- yet thoughtless -- tissue. The company becomes our God, our pie in the sky. Whatever is good for it, we tell ourselves, is good for us; if that means we have to be silent when our bosses tell “nigger jokes” during lunch break, or turn a blind eye when a higher-up sexually harasses a custodian, so be it. The organization supersedes all, and all else is inconsequential to who I am as a person.

Climbing the ladder of success, we neglect everything around us; our parents, our girlfriends, our best chums. Our organizational identity gets us to view those things as mere side stories, as nothing more than weekend background static compared to the 40 hours of our lives that actually count each week. The more we are invested in our work, and especially our perceived organizational identity, the less attuned we are to our true humanities. Everything that we hold dear as individuals -- things like conscientiousness and ethics -- we more or less have to rid ourselves of in order to succeed in the dog-eat-dog, post-Industrialist global economy.

So what do we do when we realize that everything we are is a lie, and all that money in our bank accounts can’t help us reclaim our souls? Well, drugs and alcohol are a good start for most folks, and maybe even hyper-religiosity or hyper-politicking as a less physical -- yet brain numbing, all the same -- home remedy. Or you can cheat on your spouse, or beat up your kids. Or maybe even leave your wife and kids altogether, with only your job remaining as the sole vestige of you past life. Violence -- spectacular, cable news-baiting violence -- is usually a last, last resort, and exposes the hilarious Catch 22 of the whole scenario: being an organizational zombie (yet maintaining that oh-so-valuable workplace identity) saps you of all semblances of humanity, but not being an organizational zombie (and therefore, losing that oh-so-valuable workplace identity) makes you want to kill everything in the world.

You know, maybe that omnipresent connectivity to our organizational identities is what drives us to do all of the evil shit we do. I mean, after all, we’re stuck in a vacuum that, on one hand, is totally destroying us emotionally, yet at the same time, it’s providing us with all our social wants. Not that being completely confused, befuddled or conflicted -- in addition to being placed in a position we consider inescapable altogether -- would ever, EVER get us to behave erratically or destructively. Ever.

And yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “But Jimbo, if organizational identity and an obsession with the workplace is really the soul-destroying thing you tell us it is, then how come Japan and China -- arguably the world’s two most industrious nations -- have among the lowest rates of depression in the world?

Well, it’s different, because American depression is different than Asian depression. Japanese dudes don’t open fire on school children when they’re feeling blue, they just suck on some chlorine gas and make sure their windows are sealed tight, to make sure nobody else is inadvertently killed. Since Japan and China are true collectivist nations -- indeed, the large urban populations in both countries pretty much necessitate an all-encompassing sense of social cohesion, just as a survival mechanism -- you could argue that one’s workplace identity really isn’t all that far removed from his or her societal identity. But in America, where we’re INDIVIDUALS, GOD-DAMN-IT, there’s a distinct rift between our organizational personas and our personas as social system inhabitants. We’re forced to be two different people in America, whereas in Asia, who you are as worker and overall human being is pretty much the same thing.

And so, this natural conflict goes on for a couple of decades, until we kill ourselves, kill somebody else, or completely squelch our humanity altogether and become lifeless globs who don’t even realize it when people run over our toes with shopping cart wheels. And then, retirement comes along, and one afternoon, we have to sit down in our reclining chair and reflect on what we’ve done with our lives, and suddenly, we realize we haven’t really done Jack Shit for ourselves. Sure, we may have kept the company up and running, but we know we’ll be forgotten. Once we’re dead, nobody will give a shit about our organizational identities: a shame, really, because in America, that’s usually our most pronounced persona, if not the only one we elect to present to the world at large.

But in the meantime, our organizational identities protect us from the inevitability of our own cosmological unimportance. It allows us to sell sugary, fat-loaded foodstuffs to already-overweight kids, basically as a skeleton key to exonerate us of guilt. “We’re just doing what our superiors want,” we’ll say.  It allows us to turn a blind eye when some creepy-ass, under-parented child goes on another soon-to-be-forgotten homicide spree, and it’ll get us to forget all about deadbeat dads and the unavoidable statistical outcomes for those who live fatherless existences. Those of us who tend to think we’d never commit violent crime would cook books, shred documents or take a bullet ourselves for our bossman; if he goes, our sense of self goes with them, we’ll tell ourselves. Corporate crime, surely, has to be worth that.

Hannah Arendt called it the "banality of evil." Daniel Goldhagen explicitly referred to it as the primary catalyst for the Holocaust in "Hitler's Willing Executioners." In terms of an American framework, Ward Churchill kinda touched upon it in his miscellaneous screeds against technocracy, while the main character in "Thank You for Smoking" somewhat alluded to it by calling the universal excuse of one's outstanding mortgage the "Yuppie Nuremberg Defense."

No matter what you call it, though, the things I’ve seen fellow Americans do, all in the name of maintaining organizational rank, is absolutely blood chilling. These are people that are genuinely aroused by the sight of a man receiving a golf cart, after all. If they’ll do that, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll toss you into a furnace, too.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The ORIGINAL Script!

Had Wes Craven had his way, we could’ve ended up with a very, very different movie. Just how different, you may be wondering? Read on, Freddy fanatics…

I’m going to tell you kids something you already know: “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors” is pretty fucking awesome. With all of the hilarious Freddy quips, inventive deaths, big name stars (Morpheus and Patricia Arquette among them!), rockin’ Dokken tunes and a screenplay that’s both energetic and spooky, not only do I consider “Elm Street 3” to be the best of the Freddy movies, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the only Elm Street movie. It’s a film that struck a near-perfect balance between the series’ early, pure horror roots and its latter, self-parodying excesses; as such, it’s one of the most revered slasher flicks of the 1980s, and for very, very good reason.

That said, there’s something that’s always kinda’ peeved me about the film...or rather, the film’s poster. For one thing, the kids represented on the flyer don’t really look anything at all like the kids in the movie (where’s the platinum haired new wave rocker chick and the dude in a denim jacket swinging a mace, guys?), and then, there’s that little two-story ranch home near the bottom of the poster. See it just sitting there, being all ominous and spooky, all out in the woods and stuff? Sure, there’s a mechanic in the final film about a papier-mâché house that looks similar to that, but beyond that, the on-poster home has precious little to do with the film itself.

Now, I’m no cinema historian, but if I didn’t know any better, whoever designed the film’s poster looks like he or she based his or her work on the film’s original script. You kids know all about the original “Elm Street 3,” don’t you? You know, the one Wes Craven and pals ironed out sometime in 1986, with a totally different plotline, redesigned characters and totally different deaths and creep out sequences? Well, if not, perhaps its time I gave you fellows a look at what could’ve been, no?

Picture it: 1985. The second “Elm Street” movie had just been released, and it, for lack of a better term, sucked. An executive mandate for the first “Elm Street” movie pretty much wrested the series away from original director and Freddy creator Wes Craven, whom had nothing to do with part 2. Although the second film did make quite a bit of money, pretty much everybody and their mama knew it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first flick (despite some hilariously blunt homoerotic overtones), so the guys at New Line Cinema said “you know what? How about we give Wes a call, and ask him if he wants to help out with part 3.”

While Wes Craven didn’t end up directing the actual film, he did have a hand in its production and its script. Before Frank Darabont and director Chuck Russell punched up the script (effectively, giving us the movie we all know and love today), Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner were hired by New Line to deliver an initial script, and hells a poppin’, what they sent in was WAY different than the final filmed product. While there are some similarities between the original script and the final script, there are a ton of changes, which really affected the entire tone of the story; ultimately, the original “Dream Warriors” script was a bit darker and more gruesome, with a greater emphasis on Nancy as a sort of vigilante defender. Oh, and it completely rewrites the entire Freddy mythos, so for those of you that are heavy into canon, you might want to pay attention here.

So, what was the original script like? Here, dear readers, is my official Cliff Notes version of the ORIGINAL “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3”…

First up, there’s a pre-credits scene featuring a fetal Freddy literally ripping through his mother’s stomach in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere. This is followed up by a montage of  “missing kids” posters across America, with the camera panning in on a flyer for a missing redheaded girl.

Then, we jump to Nancy, driving down some country back roads, listening to radio reports about teen suicide trends. Hey, she sees that one redheaded girl from the missing poster, just standing on the side of the road! Naturally, she lets her hitch a ride with her.

Of course, Nancy gets a flat tire. Sans a spare, she wanders out into an open field, where she encounters the same cabin from the intro. And outside it,  there are kids in little tuxes and party dresses skipping rope and singing the iconic “One, Two” nursery rhyme. As any normal human being would do, Nancy approaches the home, as the kids scatter into the darkness. There’s a bunch of tricycles on the porch. And the wind chime has razor fingers on it!

Inside, she finds an elevator with floor numbers reaching up into the 5,000s. She steps in, gets trapped, and it drops down at like a million miles per hours. And it also goes sideways, like the “Tower of Terror” and shit. Then, Freddy’s claw hand attacks her, but she fends it off. Then the HELL-avater stops, and she encounters both a giant tricycle and her elderly dad -- you know, the police guy from the first movie. He gives her the old “We barbecued his ass way back when speech,” pointing to Freddy’s charred skeletal remains. But there’s only a hand left? Hey, where did the rest of his flame-broiled zombie ass go, he asks?

Then we jump back to the redhead sleeping in Nancy’s car. A gigantic snake (with Freddy’s glove for a head!) yanks her -- by the mouth -- through the windshield. She’s sucked up into an oak tree (not an Elm tree, the script specifically tells us) where…well, I suppose its safe to assume not much good can happen.

So back in the cabin, Nancy and her dad chase Freddy’s hand around, until it squeezes through a barred window. He then pulls his eyelids out like Stretch Armstrong and SLICES THEM OFF with a razor-blade lined finger! Then, Nancy wakes up. Oh, I get it -- she was dreaming in her car the entire time! Enter Neil Guinness, a doctor who just conveniently happened to be out in the middle of goddamn nowhere.

Apparently, Nancy fell asleep at the wheel, and crashed her car in a ditch. He checks her out…medically speaking, of course. There’s blood all over Nancy’s car. Apparently, she hit an animal…yes, that’s right, an animal. Guinness said she can stay at his place. Nancy accepts his offer, because she’s the most reasonable person in the history of the world.

At Guinness’ place, Nancy talks about how she’s tried to find her dad, who apparently went AWOL after the first movie. He said there’s this house he’s been trying to find for awhile, though…

So, Guinness, being creepy as hell, peers at Nancy while she sleeps. He notices her RX meds -- something called  Hypnocil. A psychiatrist by trade, he decides to flip through some medical books. It’s some sort of non FDA-approved experimental drug that’s supposed to suppress night terrors or something.

Nancy seems to have a nightmare, with the hitcher from earlier flying through the window. She’s had her hair ripped off her head, showing a bloody scalp a la that one hooker in “Warlock: the Armageddon.”  THEN THE HAIR COMES ALIVE AND ATTACKS HER! Guinness watches Nancy writhe in bed with the invisible force, so he intercedes. He slaps her, and then his fucking jaw falls off and his skin starts melting into putty. Uh-oh…

With a four foot wide mouth, Guinness starts to “digest” Nancy whole (similar to the snake scene from the official ANOES3.) Right before he eats her head, the snake monster’s head transforms into Freddy’s. Then the REAL Neil arrives and wakes her up. She has a fit about the drugs not working anymore. She looks down at her hands, and there’s some charred, flesh-like shit underneath her cuticles…

Next scene, Neil and Nancy drive back to the field, and what do you know, her car is gone. She notes an ominous looking tree, surrounded by ominous looking birds. Last night, she said, was the first time she’s had a dream of any kind in five years.

Neil and Nancy arrive at the hospital. There, he encounters Kristen, a young woman who had just attempted suicide. What unfurls next is pretty much the same scene from the NOES3 finished product, with Nancy singing the nursery rhyme to “calm” Kristen down. From there, we’re introduced to the denizens of the hospital’s “special adolescent ward”: There’s Jennifer, who has a knack for burning herself with cigarettes; Taryn, a black girl that likes to draw pictures of fire; and of course, Kincaid who is pretty much the same character as he is in the final product. By the way: I cannot tell you how much pride I feel knowing that the actor that played him GRADUATED from the same university I did.

Neil and Nancy talk for a bit. For whatever reason, kids from out of town seem to be flocking to the county to commit suicide. And all of the survivors appear to have sleeping disorders.

Hey, they found Nancy’s car…suspended 200 feet in the air over a grain silo, for some reason! And it’s been slashed to shit, by something…

So, Nancy gets hired by Neil as an assistant. They go to Kristen’s parents’ place, and they are complete yuppie scumbags who only care about tennis. They say they’re going to send her to a boarding school in New York. Yeah, that’ll fix her. Nancy goes into Kristen’s room. She finds a photo of Kristen…and the hitchhiker from her dreams!

Then, the local cops find the hiker’s body in the trees. Nancy decides to investigate the mysterious cabin…which wouldn’t you believe it, just so happens to exist in “the real world,” too…and as soon as she steps into the kitchen, SHE SINKS INTO AN UNDERWATER ABYSS! There, she sees her dad, with bloody eyes, at the bottom. She goes upstairs and encounters “baby Freddy,” which turns into the full grown version we’re all more accustom to. A Mini-chase begins, and Nancy escape from house, and Freddy promises to “shit” on her corpse someday.

By the way; the film doesn’t take place in Springwood, Ohio, the canonical setting of the series. As to where the movie textually takes place, the script never tells us.

So Nancy runs to Neil. He tells her the last Freddy dream was all a hallucination. The cops say the cabin out back is the old “Krueger place,” which some locals think is haunted. In fact, just last week, some dude locked himself inside it and tried to burn it down. And hey, he’s one of Neil’s patients, wouldn’t you know it? Holy shit, that lunatic that tried to burn the place down? IT’S NANCY’S DAD! Somehow, he blinded himself in the blaze. He tells Nancy that the house has to be destroyed, because its some sort of metaphysical portal that allows Freddy to enter people’s dreams or some shit like that.

ENTER Joey and Laredo. Joey is a frail kid with spasms who has built a near perfect replica of the Krueger cabin. Laredo is some long-haired Dungeons and Dragons dweeb. We also meet Phillip, whom we are told “sleepwalks.” So, Phil ends up getting hoisted by Freddy, kinda’ like Phil in the final print. Only, he’s not strung up like a puppet, he’s just being kinda’ carried down the hallway, I suppose. Freddy walks him right through a wall, and straight into the path of an oncoming ambulance.

There’s a group meeting after Phil’s death, and the psych department director is a real bitch. Neil thinks all the kids are experiencing “delayed stress syndrome.” Kristen undergoes an EEG. Nancy thinks she sees Kristen disappear while being probed, but Neil thinks she’s still hallucinating. The next day, Kristen’s parents check her out of the hospital.

Cue Jennifer’s death. It’s virtually the same as it is in the movie, only sans the “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” line.

Kristen returns to school, with bandaged wrists, and all of the snobby girls make fun of her. In psych class, they’re having a convenient lecture about dreaming, and Deimos, and the dream world being a interphase between life and death and shit. Kristen falls asleep, and in her dream, yanks one of the tops off the bitchy girls. Except Kristen really does yank the girls’ top off in class, and it’s all funny and stuff.

Next scene, Nancy looks like she’s going to set the old Krueger house ablaze. A cop and his German Shepherd show up, though and prevent her, so she goes back to the ward to probe her daddy for advice. Her dad tells her the only way to get the job done is to burn the house from the inside, and with the help of some “dream warriors,” too.

Back to Kristen. In her room, she’s looking at some St. Girard Catholic School flyers when all of a sudden she develops stigmata AND FLIES THROUGH HER BEDROOM WINDOW IN A JESUS CHRIST POSE. She’s literally flown to New York and through the school, where all of the girls have bloody arm bandages, too. She winds up in the old Krueger house, where Freddy “crosses” himself and blood and shit comes out. She cries to Nancy, who is awake, and gets sucked through a portal in her mattress.

Nancy finds herself in Kristen’s dream, just in time to make the save. Right before Fred gets them, they both wake up in Kristen’s bed. “We have to talk,” Nancy says.

So, the two go back into Dreamland, to burn down the Krueger house. However, they end up attacked by a GERMAN SHEPHERD with FREDDY COLORED FUR AND A FREDDY HEAD! Kristen pulls Kincaid into the dream, and he punches Freddy. Freddy gets all big and stuff and then the trio wake up in the hospital, where the psych director is really, really peeved…and not really asking any questions about how THEY ALL ended up in the secured facility through the apparent magic of teleportation.

In the next scene, Nancy and Neil have sex -- and trust me, it’s about as clumsily written as you’d expect a love scene penned by the dude who made “The Last House on the Left” would be. Nancy has a dream that all of the dead kids offed earlier in the film approach her and ask her to kill Freddy for them. She wakes up. She goes to the hospital, and her dad tells her that all the kids in the hospital are “dream warriors” that have gathered for a final battle against Freddy. They escape into a group meeting, and all of the kids “vanish” during some sort of meditation ritual. Neil can’t believe his eyes!

They awaken on some mystical hilltop, all transformed into real “Dream Warriors.” Joey is now all muscular and shit, for example. Nancy gives them a Patton speech about why they’ve been assembled…a “Seven Samurai,” basically, to kill Freddy. A door literally appears out of nowhere, leading to Freddy’s home, presumably. They all chant “We’re home!” before entering the great unknown…

Back at the hospital, there’s a massive manhunt going on. At one point, Nancy’s dad -- no longer usable in the Dream World, we were told earlier -- runs across the lawn, on fire and shit. Before he dies, he tells Neil that he has to physically go to the Krueger house and burn it down.

In dream world, the kids TRY to set the Krueger house on fire, but nothing happens. So, they all have Molotov cocktails, saying shit about how they’re going to get Freddy. Taryn gets distracted, though, by her “Grandma’s” voice. Of course, it’s Freddy, who yells “Grandma, your black ass!” and EATS her alive with his torso, which has “The Thing” teeth now. “Sometimes, you’re hard to stomach,” Freddy quips.

Joey gets it next. He walks into a room that turns into your typical high school girl's dorm, where he meets up with one of the girls at school he used to have a crush on. She kisses him, but her tongue turns into a snake and rips his goddamn eyeballs out. Then Freddy TURNS INTO A BED and rips his arms and legs off. Some gruesome shit right there, for sure.

Then Neil shows up at the ranch and quotes Shakespeare. Then he looks at the wind chime, which is now made out of human fingers! He goes in, and cuts off one of his fingers, and then puts it back on. Which, I guess, means he’s officially in the dream world now. And Freddy puts out the house fire by simply opening his mouth and spraying the flames with water.

Now, we come to Laredo’s death, and holy shit, this would’ve been something. Freddy shows up disguised as Laredo’s little brother, and tries to guilt trip him about his drowning. Laredo, displaying more sense than anyone in the movie thus far, kicks his “brother” in the balls and says he ain’t falling for that shit, Holmes. And realizing that he can do anything in dreamland, HE TRANSFORMS  INTO A TEN FOOT TALL GARGOYLE! Freddy responds by transforming into A GIANT CROW, to which Laredo responds by transforming into a giant fucking net. And then, Freddy jumps out with a post-hole digger(?!?), screams “screw you,” and he’s dead. Needless to say, it would’ve been a hoot to see how Kevin Yagher and pals would’ve made this one come to life; and considering how shitty the “transformative” battle sequence from the second “Mortal Kombat” movie turned out (which came out A DECADE after this film was released), it’s a pretty safe bet we would’ve seen ourselves some Grade-A lame-oh special effects here.

So, we’re down to Neil, Nancy, Kristen and Kincaid. The script says Kincaid spit’s a giant clam at Freddy (a shellfish or a booger, I’m not sure) and they napalm his ass with Molotov cocktails. Kristen manages to yank everybody out of the dream right before a fire incinerates them in dream world…

…and they wake up RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of her parents’ big soiree. And of course, Freddy follows them into the real world, and we’ve got some CRAZY SHIT coming our way. Freddy kills a ton of guests as collateral damage, and the kids run into Kristen’s dad’s TROPHY ROOM where he has a ton of guns and shit. Kincaid grabs an AR-14 and goes Al Capone on Freddy, but it doesn’t really daze him. The four try to dream teleport once more, and they wind up back at the mental institution. That is, everybody except Kincaid, who is STUCK IN A WALL between the real world (Kristen’s parents’ place) and the dream plane! Freddy then gives Kincaid a razor claw colonoscopy, with his glove popping out of his mouth. Through the aperture, Freddy’s head turns into a crocodile, and he BITES OFF THE HEAD of the bitchy psych director!

“Are we dreaming, or is this real?” Nancy asks. We as viewers have no idea at this point. The surviving three then find themselves back at the ranch home. Freddy calls Neil a “faggot” and knocks him out with a Dhalsim punch. Freddy calls Nancy and Kris the “c-word,” and a boiler room chase ‘tis on. Eventually, Nancy remembers how she beat him in the first movie -- by pretending that he’s not real -- and sure enough, it makes Freddy burst into flames.

In comes Nancy’s dad, all burned up and shit. Of course, its Freddy in disguise, but unlike in the final movie, Nancy KNOWS it’s not really her dad and stabs Fred with a shard of metal. Unfortunately, it also allows Fred to stab her, mortally wounding her. Kristen gets a pre-death lecture from Nancy, and Kristen promises to dream her away to a magical fantasy realm. With the house in flames, Kris drags Neil out.

So, the house burns to the ground, revealing a newer house, circa the 1940s. Apparently, its created a time loop, sending Kristen back to Freddy’s birth. She finds fetal Freddy, slams him up against a wall a few times and stabs him with his own claw blade thingy.

Flash forward a few months, and Neil and Kris are having diner. Apparently, Neil gets to visit Nancy nocturnally now. She bids him adieu, and there’s the little replica of the Krueger house Joey made. And then, right before the credits roll, we see a light mysteriously flick on inside the prop…followed by an ominous metal scratching sound.

So, uh, yeah, there’s a lot of changes there, no? I guess, mechanically, it’s the same film, but the characters (especially Nancy’s dad) and especially the chronology of the Freddy mythos are totally different. Whereas the latter films established Freddy as an actual human being (albeit, one that’s the alleged bastard son of a thousand maniacs), in this film, it’s VERY clear that Freddy was never a “real” human being at all, instead, being some kind of murderous mutant, claw handed freak that, I guess, has always lurked in the shadows. Of course, that opens up a huge timeline paradox; if Freddy has always been this mutant freak-o, then doesn’t that completely contradict the entire mythos established by the first film? I mean, shit, the very first scene in that one was Freddy assembling his claw hand, and here, the movie is telling us that it was something Freddy was born with. The part about Freddy being a molester and getting burned and shit remains canon, but its seriously skewed by the re-invention of Freddy’s background; I’m not saying it’s a complete plot hole, but it certainly muddies what was, up to that point, a fairly cohesive character origin story.

I actually liked Nancy taking on the vigilante role in the film, and I thought the dynamic of her and her loony asylum-bound dad working together to fight Freddy would’ve been awesome. Hey, it’s better than just using him as a drunk that gets killed by a shovel, I suppose. Overall, I also liked the “Dream Warriors” as assembled in this film more than I did the final product “Warriors” -- they are largely the same characters, but the minor tweaks, I thought, really created a more interesting cast.

Furthermore, I really liked the retooled bit players, especially Nancy’s love interest, who comes off as a bit more of a jerk here. I also fucking LOVED the idea of making Kristen’s parents super yuppie scumbag don’t-give-a-fuck socialites, and the “Freddy crashes the party scene” would’ve been all sorts of awesome. I also liked the psych director character, who was excised out of the final shooting script; she definitely made for a great “sub-villain,” of sorts.

The death scenes in the original script I thought were way better than the death scenes we got in the final film -- although as stated above, I’m not sure how good they would’ve looked using contemporary technologies. All in all, the deaths just seemed more gruesome and vicious, and the idea of hearing Freddy yell “Grandma, your black ass!” would’ve been the funniest thing in the history of anything.

As far as the Catholic imagery, I guess it would’ve been cool, even if that “crucifix” nightmare scene would’ve likely looked like shit on the Silver Screen. There’s also a ton of iconography about Deimos and the blind -- an allusion to Greek mythology, almost assuredly -- but it really doesn’t lead to anything too noteworthy. And the ending, I think, set up the series for a new franchise tandem team -- Neil and Kristen -- with Nancy probably in line to return as a “Dream Angel,” sort of a good version of Freddy Krueger, as was a plotline in the old “Elm Street” Marvel comics.

Of course, the “Elm Street 3” we got was just flat out awesome, so I can’t complain too much about the heavy script changes that went on from draft one to the finished product. Alas, in an alternate reality somewhere, you can rest happy, knowing that there exists -- somewhere in the multiverse -- an “Elm Street 3” featuring Freddy Krueger as a giant bird. Lord knows, that helps me sleep a little better, each and every evening…