Up, Up, And…

July 21, 2005

Years ago a friend of mine came up with a new super hero who would stand up for the sitting, beat the beatable, and be an all around good guy. His name was Pyrite Man, a name that launched several scripts by me, as well as my own complete failure to ever be a film director (aside from a music video I did for school). The average person on the street might, if tempted with bright advertising or maybe just the offer of a dollar, ask, "Who is Pyrite Man, anyway? What kind of super hero is he? What are his powers?"

Like many super heroes Pyrite Man’s powers came entirely from his suit, which was gold-colored with red goggles. When he put it on he, well, he became Pyrite Man, super hero by day, moderately light sleeper at night, because it was the only suit he owned. We didn’t have the budget to give him another identity. Pyrite Man worked with police chief Mervyn Brunge and deputy Loudermilk to solve crimes that weren’t considered important enough to deserve real attention–such as the mysterious theft of several hundred wigs. Actually it was just one wig because we didn’t have the budget for more. He also got assistance from former mayor Alan Geldo who’d been driven from office when his plan to eliminate corruption worked so well it bankrupted the city. Geldo proved an invaluable source of information because he lived in a homeless shelter where super criminals recruited most of their henchmen.

Who were the super criminals Pyrite Man fought? There was the evil Doctor Krelg, originally a brilliant scientist who’d turned to evil after falling into a tapioca machine, whose plan to take over the city with animated wigs was foiled when Pyrite Man doused his lab with hair spray. There was the evil Professor Fliddro, originally a brilliant toy designer who’d turned to evil after losing a pudding-eating contest, whose plan to take over a local mall was stopped when Pyrite Man called mall security. There was the evil Mr. Nelson, originally a brilliant linguistics professor who turned to evil for no particular reason, who kidnapped the ambassador from Salivia. He was caught when his dastardly creation–a giant frozen custard animated by some wires and a car battery–began reciting lines from his "Learn English In Thirty Easy Lessons" tapes.

And then there was Pyrite Man’s arch-enemy Havel Sneed, a villain so evil he sold copies of Tropic of Cancer to schoolchildren, finally brought down by a parking ticket. He might have gone to jail, but we didn’t have the budget for that. What became of Pyrite Man, though? Mark Twain once said, "A hero is the shortest-lived profession," and that’s especially true of a super hero without an audience. Nothing brings a super hero down faster than being invisible, unless that’s his or her power and even then there’s usually a broken line around them or something else to indicate that they’re really there. Pyrite Man never made it to film because we didn’t have the budget for a camera. Wherever you may be, Pyrite Man, thank you for never rescuing the city, never defeating the forces of evil, and never being ready to answer the call to action. You might have made the world a better place, but we didn’t have the budget for that.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

You have to be old enough to remember Abbott and Costello, and too old to fully understand computers, to fully appreciate this. If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their infamous sketch, "Who’s on first?" might have turned out something like this:


ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I’m setting up an office in my den and I’m thinking about buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don’t own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don’t know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOT T: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let’s just say I’m sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I’m going to click your blue "w" if you don’t start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?

ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: If it’s a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3 and 4. Can I watch them?

ABBOTT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: OK, I’m at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT: The blue "1".

COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?

ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows"!

ABBOTT: No, just one. But it’s the most popular Word in the world.


ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren’t many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.

COSTELLO: And that word is real one?

ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn’t even part of Office.

COSTELLO: STOP! Don’t start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That’s right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What’s bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn’t it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?


(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START"…..

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