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This Week's Reader Submission Contest Winner #4: Paul's Pick

posted by Paul on 7/28/01

Here we are in the final weekend of our submissions contest. It has been, I'm sure you'll agree, a great success (or something equally cliched). We've seen new writers get an airing, we've been deluged with submissions and we've realized that we now have an effective way of covering our new writers a chance. This contest is likely to be a seasonal gig, so look for us to run the next one sometime around Christmas.

I personally think all the winning entries have been of a very high standard and it's kept us all on our toes. My winner this week is "7th Level", our forum stalwart who also goes by the name of "Lord 7th" or, in his high school days, "Little Fluffy Bunny Feet". I've pooled two of his samples together to provide you guys with some solid reading. Be sure to provide feedback.

Congratulations to "7th Level". All hail Al Bundy


Theater Follies, Episode 1

In days of old, the ancient culture known as the Greeks invented a new form of expression. Dressed in masks and costumes, they acted out the lives of past heroes and villians, both historical and imaginary, in dramas, romances, adventures, tragedies, and comedies before live audiences. The theater was born, and opened new realms into the human imagination.
More than a millenia has passed since that time, and while theaters and plays still exist, they have been, for the most part, replaced by the modern equivalent: the movie theater.

Now I love movies. I have a large DVD collection at home. I have all the movie channels. I have more video memberships than most people have credit cards. But try as I might to hold onto the magic of going to the movies that I recall from my childhood, I keep finding myself becoming more and more jaded towards the whole moviegoing experience. And the most recent outing has almost convinced me never to return to those dark, mythic rooms to partkate in the newest adventures of the moving screen. It went, as they say, a little something like this:

Saturday, July 21st, 2001

9:53 AM:
My wife wakes me up from a blissful sleep, and utters the words that all husbands fear: "Honey, I'm bored!"

10:20 AM
After eating a cold, soggy breakfast, I go through the usual list of things to appease my wife's boredom:

"Wanna go to Busch Gardens?" NO.
"Wanna go to the water park?" NO.
"How about the beach?" NO.
"Want to go shopping?" NO.
"Want to have sex?" .......

11:40 AM
I'm enjoying a nice shower, when I hear a knock on the shower door. I don't even have to look through the glass to know who it is, or what she's going to say: "Honey, I'm still bored."

11:42 AM
We decide to go to a movie. I spend five minutes calling the movie info line over and over to repeat which films are playing to my wife, who can't seem to decide which one she wants to see. She finally decides on Scary Movie 2, of all things. I call the number again to get showtimes. Oh dear God in heaven. It starts in twenty minutes.

11:51 AM
After waiting for you-know-who to go through four outfits so she'll look her best sitting in a dark room, we jump in the Camaro and head out. I get stopped by every red light between my house and the Sunshine Expressway, and have to stop at three convenience stores before I find one that's not out of Marlboro Ultralights.

12:25 PM
We arrive a few minutes late. My wife decides she wants to wait until the next showing starts. I try to explain that there's bound to be 20 minutes worth of previews before the film, but no dice. "The previews are my favorite part!" she exclaims.

2:10 PM
After ninety minutes of watching my wife try on clothes at Walmart and complaining every time I even attempt to go to the electronics section, we finally arrive at the theater, early no less, and purchase our tickets with my check card. The minute we're inside, she has already picked out the smorgasbord of unhealthy snack foods she wants from the concession stand.
We've already ordered everything when I'm informed by the acne-encrusted cashier that while I can buy my tickets with my check card, the snacks are cash only, and they don't have an ATM machine.

2:20 PM
I come back from Wlmart, having raced across the street to use their ATM, with cash in hand. My wife is still standing at the counter, holding her snacks like an eight year old that was caught shoplifting. I pay the man and take my Doctor Pepper from my wife's hand. "Hey, watch it Snatchy Snatcherton!" she says, as I head to the men's room, thinking about that nice warm bed I left behind.

2:25 PM
I'm still standing in line waiting to use the urinal (I'm one of the courteous few who prefers to piss before the movie starts, so as not to step on anyone's feet if I have to go during the film.)

I feel a tap on my shoulder, and turn around to see your typical old Florida man in bermuda shorts, black socks, and sandles standing behind me. "Excuse me young man, are you standing in line to use the restroom?"
"No, I just like to stand in bathrooms and watch other men piss."

He looked at me like I was the AntiChrist, and then stepped back in line. Well, you know what they say about asking stupid questions...

I finally get to a urinal and begin to do my business, when I hear the unmistakable sound of a child giggling. I look down and to my left and see a five-or-so year old boy, with mini-johnson in hand, aiming towards my ankle. I pivot on my heel to try and get away. Not only does he still manage to hit his target, my sock now clinging to my skin like saran wrap, but I fail to realize in my attempt to escape that I myself am still in the midst of doing the deed, and thus succeed in spraying piss across the back wall and exposing myself to some fifteen men still waiting to go. One of them is the old man. He's grinning at me with his hideous false teeth. I point to the kid, who is just finishing up filling my shoe's piss tank, and try to say something in my defense, but no words come out. I lower my head, wash my hands at the sink, and then hurry out, my left Airwalk squishing like the Black Lagoon Creature at a tap-dancing school, to find my wife. She looks at my wet sock and says "Are you ever going to learn to shake after you're done?" I try to think of a witty comeback, but all I can think of is that damned old man grinning at me with his fake chompers.

2:30 PM
My wife and I finally make it to our seats (she likes to sit all the way on the top row, so the screen doesn't look any bigger than our Sony set at home.) I quickly notice that the white person-to-black person ratio is decidedly one-sided. We look like the only stars out on a dark night. But I don't have time to contemplate the socioeconomic aspects of the situation, as my concentration is broken by a six-inch stilleto heel impaling my big toe. I look up in agony and see a six foot white woman in full out 8-Ball gear and a hair weave walking past us. "ESCREWS ME!" she says in a rather contrived BAPS accent. On down the aisle, I hear another squeal of pain. "ESCREWS ME!"

"Watch where you're goin' BITCH!"
"That's what you get for puttin' your size thirteens in my way, you dumb mutha fuckah!"

2:35 PM
The lights go out, and the previews start. The White Amazon has taken a seat three down from mine. She's gnawing on her popcorn so loudly that I can differentiate the kernal sizes. "Damn, this popcorn tastes like SHIZNIT!"
"Shut up, wigger!" an anonymous gentle soul yells from the front row.
"Why dontchu come up here and shuts me up, FOO?!?!"
I sink father down in my seat, as the realization comes to me that I have to endure another 90 minutes of this.

3:01 PM
I'm at a loss for what this movie is about, not because of an overly complicated plot, but because everyone in the theater, especially the White Amazon, is laughing so loudly that it's drowning out the dialogue. All I know for sure so far is that James Woods' shit draws flies, and Shawn Wayans is gay and likes to tuck his pecker between his legs.

3:15 PM
Amazingly, the audience begins to quiet down, and I'm actually begining to pick up pieces of the dialogue. Unfortunately, all this has done is clued me into the fact that this is just a retread of the original, which comes as no surprise. Truth be told, I'm having more fun watching the other patrons than I am the film. Suddenly, a cell phone rings. I'll give you three guesses who it belongs to.

I look at my wife, who seems almost on the verge of tears at having her movie going experience ruined by this loud-mouthed individual. I decide to do my husbandly duty and...sit quietly in my seat so as not to get my wife or myself lynched. Someone down front screams "SHUT...THE FUCK...UP!!!"

The Great White 'Ho gets to her feet. "HEY YOUS MUTHA FUCKAH! I PAID FOR MY TICKET, BITCH!"
I hear a faint rustling sound. I realize to my inner delight that it's the sound a bag of popcorn makes as it soars through the air, just as it collides with the mammoth female's blond and pink weave. This is the funniest part of the movie so far.

3:13 PM
The ushers arrive and approach the Amazon cautiously, as if she's a coiled cobra waiting to strike. "TOUCH ME AND I'LL SCREAM RAPE, YOU BASTARDS!" Hey, why not? She's screamed everything else already.

The projector operator stops the film and the lights go up. Popcorn is being thrown everywhere. A fight has broken out on the first row between two Hispanic girls dressed in cutaway tops and fuck me pumps. Someone who's apparently seen almost as many movies as I have screams "GET THAT BITCH, LEATHERFACE! GET THAT BITCH!"

3:25 PM
We're on the road, headed back home. I have so much Coke on my face that my eyelids are almost dried shut. My wife is picking popcorn from her hair and throwing the kernels out the window. "Well," I say and take a drag on my cigarette, trying to put as positive a spin on it as I possibly can, "at least the scene in the freezer was funny."

"....Honey, I'm STILL BORED!"

"We Sold Our Souls For Christian Rock"

Having been raised in a Pentecostal church, I can tell you with utmost honesty that Christians can be a pushy lot. I've been a Christian for as long as I can remember, and I tell you: I can't stand most of them.

As if it wasn't bad enough that I can't go to the mall without having a 14 year old version of Britney Spears asking me if I know Jesus and waving a brochure in my face, these pesky do-gooders have more subversive tactics to turn darkened hearts to the eyes of the LAWD than Jim Jones had uses for Kool-Aid: movies (The Omega Code, Left Behind, The Judas Project,) books (Left Behind, anything by John Peretti,) Barney ripoffs (Veggie Tales) and perhaps the worst offender, Christian Rock music.

When mentioning Christian rock, most people these days will blurt out Creed, and then usually follow that with numerous colorful expletives (myself included.) What most don't realize is that Creed is nothing new. This candy-coated force feeding of
wholesomeness has been going on for almost thirty years. And it all started with a little band named Petra...

Petra started out in 1976 as a sort of new wave experiment, a Christianized version of Talking Heads if you will...and surprisingly enough, it took off. Their concerts drew record numbers, and their records were the top sellers at Lanham Bible Bookshops across America. And record companies stood up and took notice. I stood up and took notice too. And then I
bent over and vomited.

As the arena rock sound kicked into overdrive in the US, with bands like Journey and REO Speedwagon topping the charts (for those of you born during the Reagan administration, these would be the bands you might still hear during the "Mullet Hour" on most modern rock stations) Petra needed a new direction. They fired their singer (a rather freaky looking individual named Greg X Volz) and replaced him with a man named John Schlitt, who sounded like a cross between the lead singer for Rush and four cats gang-banging the entry wound of a shot pig. They went from synthesizers and spacy lyrics to hard guitars and anthems that made kids throw their fists in the air and yell "Jesus RAWKS!"...and they all grew their hair long and wore
Miami Vice jackets...

I viewed all of this in a rather sanguine state...I wept for our species, knowing that this would only be a floodgate for the plethora of record producers hoping to replicate Petra's meager success. Little did I know that a small record label named Enigma had a band in the wings who would not only surpass Petra, but would go where no Christian musician had gone before: the top 40.


In 1985, Enigma released the first record from a band named Stryper, four long-haired, gangly men dressed in matching yellow and black jumpsuits. Their debut album was called "The Yellow And Black Attack," and was only a taste of what was to come. It was pop-metal through and through, the radio-safe kind of music released by bands such as Poison, Def Leppard, and so on. Their lead singer was a man named Michael Sweet, who sang like the lead screecher from Styx and looked like the bitch from Jefferson Airplane. Their music sang about fighting for God, and battling against sin. It also sucked a big plateful of cock. But that didn't stop it from selling 500,000 copies, as did their second album "Soldiers Under Command."

Then, in 1987, they released their third album, entitled (no shit)"To Hell With The Devil," which sounded exactly like the previous two, with one exception: "Honestly," a slow, piano-based love anthem that had all the musical merit of a Lawrence Welk record played backwards. But it was about true love, and had long-haired pretty boys singing in front of candle-lit backdrops and the like...It shot to the top ten in a matter of weeks, and stayed there longer than any record should.

This heresy was duplicated again in 1988 when they released "In God We Trust," upon which was not one but TWO love ballads: "Believe" and "Always There For You." both of these utterly useless songs hit the top ten, and stayed the number-one voted song on Dial MTV for weeks. Their new concert tour included a 25 foot tall lit up cross that looked for all the world like a Mad Max world version of a KKK rally. But parents and youth groups across America flocked their wayward
teeny boppers to their concerts en masse, hoping to bang some God into their heads...and that's when everything crumbled to bits (unless you believe the stories a former groupie told me about snortng coke with Stryper backstage during their Hell With The Devil Tour.)

Stryper quickly tired of having audiences full of youth groups and the parents of youth groups. They decided they needed to be more cutting edge, more mainstream. Their next album would be totally devoid of any mention of God, Jesus, or anything else religious. BUT, it would have 4 love ballads to keep them in the top 40. They dropped the Yellow and Black logo, dropped the matching jump suits, and released "Against The Law," their mock-up prison mug shots enblazened across the cover to show what bad boys they'd become in six longer supported by the Bible belt, it hit the bargain bin in my town 3 weeks after its release...this has been the model for every cross-over success story in Christian Rock: hit it big, sell lots
of records, try to get mainstream credibility, and tank like a 40 lb turd (see King's X, Giant, or DC Talk.)

Then came the alternative revolution, and just like the Metal scene before it, the Christian record companies scoured the landscape for soundalikes (every band that came out in the metal era was a clone of a secular band..Whitecross was a Ratt clone, Barren Cross was indistinguishable from Iron Maiden, and so on.) In 1995 MxPx hit the scene, and was quickly labelled as the Christian Green Day. Nowadays, you can walk into any Christian book store and find bands who sound just like Blink 182 (Value pac), Pearl Jam (Plankeye, Creed), the Offspring (Dogwood) and on and on...

Where is it going stop? When are Christians going to reach a point in their quest to seem just as appealing as everyone else that there won't be any difference between the pandering crap they release, and the pandering crap we already have?

Another man had a similar idea many years ago. He began incorporating various aspects of the religions around him into Christianity in an attempt to make it more appealing to non-Christians. Eventually, Christianity became the official religion of the land. His name was Constantine, and his brainchild became the largest mangler of the human spirit in man's history, the Roman Catholic Church...and let's face it, who, if they had a choice, would WANT to be Catholic?

I don't know how bad it will eventually be. Maybe the US will wake up and see that most of these bands just use the Christian Record companies as stepping stones because secular labels won't touch them... unless they can push 150,000 records a year.

Sadly, I doubt that will ever happen. I fully expect to turn on my TV next week, scan past the Trinity Broadcast Network, and see a pink-haired old bitch with more make-up than Tammy-Fae Baker on mescaline present the newest in Christian rap: Reesays PeaceS.Big Brother in effect my friends. Will the real Cult Mentality please stand up?

-="7th Level" =-




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