PDR’s Controversial Beliefs: Sneed’s isn’t a good joke

There’s a joke from an episode of the Simpsons, from the period that I consider “later” Simpsons, but which is actually probably less than a third into the run of the show by this point. The joke is that there is a store with a sign that says “Sneed’s Feed and Seed” with the information that the store used to be called “Chuck’s”. I mean, I’ve got the image right there, you can see it. The “joke” is that back when the store was called Chuck’s, it would have been “Chuck’s Fuck and Suck”, get it? It makes you think of a dirty word! How subversive and cool! It is to laugh. And yet I’ve seen people online cite this as a good joke.

I don’t find it that funny. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t seem to get the same value from using “curse words” as most people. I don’t get it. They’re just words to me. I find them neither offensive nor thrilling. But at least I understand that other people do enjoy them on some level I don’t get, so I can understand what the Sneed’s joke is trying to do. It may only be a minor step above having a character just say “Fuck” and then bleeping it as far as jokes that put a swear into the listener’s mind without actually saying it out loud, but that is still a step above that. That little bit of cleverness should count for something.

But here is what ruins the joke: business signs don’t work like that. If the store used to be Chuck’s, it was Chuck’s Feed and Seed. If it was an entirely different business, they wouldn’t put what it used to be on the sign. If an accountant’s office moves into a place that used to be a Pizza Hut, they don’t but “Formerly Pizza Hut” on the damn sign. If that accountant’s office changes its name, but remains an accountant’s office, then they might put their former name on the sign so that customers would know they’re the same business. Even if accountant’s names rhyme with Pizza Hut! It’s irrelevant that Sneed’s used to be Chuck’s unless Chuck’s was the same business. The leap in logic is too great for it to work.

It frustrates me to see people laud this joke. But hey, if people love it, I must be missing something.

PDR’s Halloween Movie Criteria

What makes a horror movie a Halloween Movie? Some may just say that any horror movie will do, but I don’t agree. Alien, The Thing, The Trollenberg Terror, and many others are good horror movies, but they aren’t what I don’t consider ideal picks for setting a Halloween tone.

I will now present a list of nine boxes that a movie can check. The more of these statements are true about the movie, the more PDR Halloween Approved the movie is.

  1. The film is “spooky”. It’s about the atmosphere. The film is going for a gothic feel or trying to instill dread in some way. I feel like this is the easiest check on the list and honestly you probably wouldn’t be analyzing a movie to these criteria if it didn’t have this one for sure.
  2. The film is set somewhere that Halloween happens. This means that the movie takes place in a country or time period where and when the characters would celebrate Halloween, even if they do not within the movie. If the setting is a big city, we’re at least focused on an apartment or residences of some kind. If the setting is the wilderness, there are some vestiges of civilization such as a campground. We’re not too far in the future or too far in the past that the period nature of the thing overtakes the Halloweenness.
  3. The film is Autumnal. If Halloween is depicted within the film, this box is an automatic check, but even if it is not, the signifiers of the Fall are good too. Pumpkins. Colourful/falling leaves. Crisp evenings with the sun setting earlier.
  4. The film features children or teenagers in prominent roles. They don’t need to be protagonists, but they need to be there. They need to be actual characters who can affect the plot and potentially be affected by the threat.
  5. The film prominently features darkness. There are large sections of the film set after sunset or in dark attics and shadowy basements. It doesn’t have to be darkness that makes it hard for the viewer to see what’s going on in the movie. The effect of the darkness on the characters is what is important. The events of the movie are occurring in the dark, even if the movie is not itself dark.
  6. The film does not heavily feature elements from other holidays. Pretty self explanatory, but I feel like there will be pushback to this one. There’s a strong tradition of horror movies and slashers that are about other holidays, but if you’re trying to create a Halloween mood, you don’t want some Easter Bunny-themed murderer or whatever drawing attention to other times of year.
  7. Someone in the film wears some kind of costume or mask. Dressing up is one of the key things about Halloween, so its inclusion here basically gives a bonus point to any movie that actually depicts the holiday in action. And it nicely also gives a point to most slashers as well.
  8. Someone in the film is dead. It can be someone who is killed by a monster or slasher within the film, but it is also acceptable to have the dead person be a ghost or skeleton or something that appears.
  9. There are supernatural elements to the film that fit into “Halloween” archetypes of monsters. This is easily the most subjective item on the list, to the point where I could see it being argued as much as my main point. But it’s only a single item of the nine, so that’s fine. Ghosts, werewolves, Draculas, demons. Basically anything you’d find in a Monster Mash is a good fit for a Halloween movie. Robots and aliens can work, but when they do it’s moreso because of the spooky atmosphere than inherent in the monsters themselves, and that atmosphere was a whole different item on this list.. Similarly, things like minotaurs or dragons aren’t quite right. You know it when you see it and really only people being wilfully contrarian would fight too hard.

A movie doesn’t need to rate a full nine points to be good for Halloween. Four or five points seems like enough, really, and I bet anything six or higher would be more than adequate for the job.

I can only reiterate that this isn’t about the quality of the movie. I can say with authority that a lot of movies that check every box on this list will be crap. But they’re crap that can get one into the Halloween spirit. So now someone please go rank all horror movies by these criteria so that I may know in advance what to pick to get the Halloween feeling I crave.

But I do have to ask why I even bother? I mentioned years ago that caution tape is not a good Halloween decoration and I still see people using it as such. You’re all heathens ruining this, they Hallowest of Eens.

PDR’s Controversial Beliefs: Yeoman Colt Should Be An Arkonian

Later this year I plan to do a series of writings all about aliens and how we depict them in fiction, but before I can get to that, I want to write up what has to be one of the most niche things I’ve ever written, and on this site that is saying something.

I am declaring it loud and clear:

This is about Star Trek, and it is about Star Trek so obscure that I bet most people who actually love Star Trek wouldn’t care about it. But to me, this is a chance to do something cool.

It’s like this: On the Star Trek series Enterprise, there was a species of aliens called Arkonians who were enemies of the franchise’s more famous aliens, the Vulcans. They only appeared once. On the Star Trek series Discovery, we saw an alien yeoman serving on the bridge of Christopher Pike’s Enterprise. She didn’t do much.

You may notice that the yeoman doesn’t actually look all that much like the Arkonian. I disagree. It is only in the world of Star Trek, where a few ridges on your nose or a point to your ears makes you an alien, that these two individuals don’t look like the same species. Sure, I admit that they have different skin colours and eye colours and one has hair and the other doesn’t but, little known fact, you can find examples of the human race on Star Trek where one has a different hair colour or skin colour or more/less hair than another. And the show expects us to believe that those are members of the same species. So, why not use this as a chance to show some variance in what Arkonians look like and make them seem more like a real species?

But there’s more to it than that. Star Trek has a long tradition of turning former enemy species into friends. The Next Generation gave us a good Klingon, a species who had been an enemy in the original show. Deep Space Nine gave us good Ferengi and Voyager gave us good Borg, both of which were enemies on TNG.

I don’t even know if this yeoman is going to show up on the new Star Trek show that will be continuing Pike’s adventures, but if they do, why not make her an Arkonian? What’s to lose? I don’t know if she’s the first Arkonian to join Starfleet or if the Arkonians were the first species to join the Federation after the founding four or what, but it’s the right choice to make.

I yield the remainder of my time.

Halloween “Post-Mortem” (Get it?)

Halloween is well over now, but I didn’t get around to commenting on it, so I’ll do it now:

I don’t think police caution tape is a particularly scary Halloween decoration. It’s very popular and, I admit, it usually has been modified to say some spooky saying like “Beware” or things that are marginally better than “Caution”, but it is still not scary. If someone has put up caution tape, that means any threat there is known. Authorities have been made aware of the situation. They deemed it such a low-level threat that they felt a little yellow ribbon would be enough protection. Real scary locations don’t come with warnings.

Last year I saw a house that had some drawings of monsters done in crayons by children. That sort of thing is in just about every second horror movie for a reason, and if you’ve got kids it’s a very cheap replacement for lame caution tape decorations. And if you don’t have kids, what are you decorating for, you chump? Just watch some horror movies or something like a grown-up.

Some people worry about keeping Christ in Christmas. I am begging you to keep caution tape out of Halloween.

PDR’s Controversial Beliefs: Calm down, fast food.

I don’t go to fast food places all that often, I am ashamed to admit. I went to Wendy’s today, though, because the grocery store is closed because they hate Canada (Why else would any business close on Canada Day if not as a protest of Canada?). Anyway, I went in and ordered my meal and they apologetically told me I’d have to wait while they made some fresh fries. Two minutes later my food was done and they said “Sorry about the wait” like I’d been terribly inconvenienced. I came very close to saying to that employee “I’m a grown up, I can wait a few minutes for food without that being a problem” but I didn’t bother. I don’t want to shatter the business’s worldview.

But it reminded me of a previous encounter with a fastfoodery: I like the milkshakes at McDonalds and once every year or two I remember that and try to get one. About five years ago I went to a McDonalds and ordered a medium milkshake. While drinking that, I realized that a medium was more than I needed to get my milkshake fix. Thus, a year or so later, I returned to get another one. Not wanting to overdo it again, I wisely ordered a small. After I order, a few other people came and ordered food and got theirs before I got mine. When some employee noticed, they gave me a medium as an amends to make up for what, in their mind, was an unconscionable wait for me to have suffered.

Okay, I get that there are probably plenty of people who are into the whole instant gratification that fast food places try to provide, but I don’t like it. I don’t care about my health or anything, so I don’t care about the usual things that are horrible about fast food. It turns out that the reason I’m not all that into fast food is that I don’t like that they think I am a whiny child.