4 Instructional Videos No One Could Possibly Find Useful
Before information was free and plentiful, mankind was forced to slowly acquire specialized skills from VHS instructional videos. They're how we learned to sweat to the oldies, fight from wheelchairs and strike dragons. But not all instructional tapes were helpful. Here are four that are of no possible use to any living thing.
Flirting With Magic, 1990
If you're anything like me, you'll watch Flirting With Magic hoping that the host is a creepy nerd surrounded by uncomfortable amateur bikini models. You're hoping that he talks about sex like he's still not sure what a couple parts of his genitals do. You're hoping that you're about to receive dating advice from someone who thinks second base with a girl is masturbating to a drawing of her. Well holy shit, you are not going to be disappointed:
What's handy about these tricks is that if you perform them as Michael Jeffreys demonstrates, they legally count as informing a stranger of your status as a sex offender. He talks to women the same way a clown talks to an erection he keeps in a jar. You can tell from his innuendoes that the closest he's ever come to getting sex with magic is hearing someone's mom flush a toilet at a birthday party. Here are some of my favorites:
Learning how to perform magic to pick up women is like learning how to perform blowjobs to pick up women. For example, this magician is so bad with girls that I think he might be trying to get free pepper spray out of her. If it wasn't clearly explained that this was flirting, I'd swear I was seeing a sorcerer give a woman a hysterectomy.
When Mom & Dad Break Up, 1987
The easiest part of getting a divorce is explaining to your children that they weren't enough to save a relationship. They'll get the idea when your car's taillights are nearly out of sight and the howling of the wolves is closing in. But if you're looking for an even easier method, you can leave them in front of this tape.
You have to be extremely careful when dealing with hurt children, so the tape is hosted by sensitive TV dad Alan Thicke and ... surprise: Orko.
Orko is the shrieking pile of clothes from He-Man, and the first thing it does is ask the parents to leave the room. After all, why shouldn't they? We're only dealing with the emotional trauma of a confused child, and here's everything they know about this Orko thing: It conjures dark forces, it's clinically retarded, it's the only character on a show about bodybuilders having sex that kids call "the gay one" and all it wants is to be alone with their children. Either those are the exact qualities you're looking for in a child psychologist, or I'm thinking of the word "molester."
In a surprise twist, the reason Orko wanted you to watch this tape alone isn't so he could discorporate your pants. It's so your parents wouldn't find out they spent $19.95 on a VHS therapist that is just fruity music videos cut together with preteen emotional breakdowns. When Mom & Dad Break Up isn't therapeutic -- it's what you give your kids when you want them to grow up to be sanitary napkins.
The first song is called "Where Will I Keep My Toys?" It features a little girl asking her teddy bear where she'll live, how she will store all her things, where her birthday party will be held, who's going to be hold her all through the night ... if you weren't paralyzed with panic before she started singing, you will be by the end of it. This song was written for one reason only: to destroy self-centered children. Oh, were you watching this tape for comfort? Well, suck it up. They couldn't afford Orko and comfort.
The next song is called "WE GOT FEELINGS! (WE GOT FEELINGS! WE GOT FEELINGS!)" I think it's about the dangers of leaving horse adrenaline where children can find it. Orko transforms two kids into a divorce video producer's idea of rock stars, and what happens next is beyond all enthusiasm. The children sing about feelings as if the only feeling they've ever known is burning alive. I'm not exaggerating. Any doctor would look at these two kids perform and tell you that their hearts are exploding. They dance the same way a demon tells you it's now occupying what was once your daughter.
Before the third song begins, Orko plays a montage of kids telling you that you shouldn't feel bad about being mad or sad. See if you can spot the children from the last video screaming in pain from the jazziest corner of hell. It's as if this fruitball script were written by feeding Alpha-Bits to Care Bears and calling them fat until they purged. Speaking of vomit, this third song is fucked. Bad actors pretend to love each other and rub cookie dough on one another, and the music sounds like the adult contemporary genre selected a champion to go out into the world and destroy all music. If there is an elevator in Phil Collins' mouth, this is what the penises trapped inside it hate listening to. My parents have been divorced for almost 30 years, and this song was the first time I ever considered killing myself over it.
It's finally time to deal with the issue of your parents' divorce being your fault. Orko says it's not, but Orko has never been right about anything. That's the entire point of Orko.
The fourth music video, "What if I Had Cleaned My Room?" features two divorcees arguing directly into their son's ears. As you've probably guessed, he can only express himself through music and lip syncs the first song written entirely by a falcon being turned inside out by a dildo. The prop master handed the kid a football, probably to help viewers identify the chirping shape as a boy, but the way he holds it only makes the actor hired to play his father that much more disappointed in him.
Orko was wrong again, kid. You are the reason for everything.
The one lesson When Mom & Dad Break Up wants to impart more than any other is that there's nothing you can do to reunite your divorced parents. Nothing. I guess we have to believe him, but for someone with a space magician for a sidekick, Alan Thicke seems pretty quick to give in to the impossible.
Does childhood depression really need a big musical finish? This is so pointlessly insane that I'm starting to think When Mom & Dad Break Up was only made in a desperate attempt to salvage some asshole's album of divorce songs.
How to Score More Points on Nintendo Games, 1989
This is one of two Nintendo videos written and hosted by Skip Rogers, "World Video Game Champion!" Before you get too impressed, you should know that there was never a "World Video Game Competition!" Skip Rogers is a lying asshole, and he plays Nintendo as if he left his thumbs in a prostitute during the First World War. Nerds, this video is going to piss you off so hard:
In the 15-minute-long How to Score More Points on Nintendo Games, Skip talks us through five games. Three of them don't have points, and two of them are giant, sprawling mazes. Thanks, Skip, but a few minutes of directions for Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is barely better than useless. That's like helping someone find their way around Cleveland by handing them a picture of Kyrie Irving's penis.
There are many long moments of silence where the viewer simply watches Skip suck at Nintendo. When he does add commentary, the World Video Game Champion! spews incorrect information and bad advice, as if his world title might become real once he's made you worse at video games. If he's giving a tip in a game with two characters, he'll mix up their names and do the opposite of what he advises, and then an editor will accidentally put the audio 20 seconds away from the event he's describing. If you don't play video games, it's difficult to describe exactly how bad Skip is at his job, so let me try to explain another way: If Skip Rogers managed a Burger King, he'd show you how to mop by frying his hands off and declaring himself the Mayor of Pizza. Skip is so terrible at doing things that if he tried flirting with a woman using magic, he would accidentally have sex with her.
Slots Hosted by James Coburn, 1996
I don't want to spoil the ending of this movie, but there's no strategy to slot machines. They're like relationships -- you throw your hopes and dreams into them until one of you is out of money and the other one is empty inside.
James Coburn, the late star of Snow Dogs,* guides you through complicated slot machine tips like this one: Betting more usually slightly delays your slow march toward bankruptcy. There is not, nor will there ever be, a second slot machine tip. Keeping that in mind, Slots Hosted by James Coburn is 40 minutes long.
*Get Ready for MUSH Hour!
After teaching you all you need to know to win, the video fills the other 39.9 minutes with things like debunking slot machine myths. Of course the problem with debunking myths like these is that anyone stupid enough to believe them doesn't have any idea what "debunking" means. Though if they have to take a swing at it, they guess it sounds like a fat person dying in a waterbed.
James Coburn has killed enough men with dice to know the malevolence of random numbers, so if he tells us that probability is determined by things that have nothing to do with our feelings and expectations, we'll have to believe him. That being said, if someone hits the jackpot right after you leave a slot machine, following them back to their hotel room with a knife is a good way to show probability that you're not to be fucked with.
If you can't trust a robot designed only to take money and then give less money back, who can you trust?
Someday in the near future, James Coburn's implicit trust of machines and computers will be classified as "HUMOR" when their whirling blades pulp his remains into servo lubricant.
You're pretty optimistic with your superstitions if you think that casinos rig their games to automatically give out money at a certain point. That's like believing the Easter Bunny is real and then also believing that the Easter Bunny has a human vagina.
I hate that James Coburn keeps explaining that random numbers are random, but since the only thing he knows about me is that I bought a VHS tape on how to play slots, I can't blame him for assuming I went to school back when math class was counting how many horses it took to pull an unfaithful wife in half.
Now you're just being a condescending dick, James Coburn.
When uneducated maniacs were running around inventing slot machine myths, this was the only reasonable one they came up with. The fact that it isn't true only drives home the point that there was no goddamn need to make this video. Knowing anything about statistics while you play slots is like knowing your rapist's favorite color.
The tape actually advises viewers to push a slot machine's spin button rather than pull its handle to "reduce wear and tear on your arm." By this point, James Coburn's list is completely off the rails, but I don't think his target audience was expected to survive this far into the video.
Hold on a second -- is James Coburn telling me I've wasted all this time freezing fortune teller blood into quarter-sized shapes? Does James Coburn have any idea how hard it is sneaking up on a fortune teller!?
"In fact, if you're still watching, there's a good chance you're just standing in front of a urinal. I'm James Coburn."
For more terrible things he's found, see The 4 Most Homophobic Comics Ever Created or 9 Ludicrous Trends in Advertising We'll Never See Again.