“Bouncing Off Trees” by Chad Robert Parker
My family has lots of moments we wished we had on camera. We were constantly saying we needed something funny that happened on tape so we could send it in to America’s Funniest Home Videos. My favorite was when we had the missionaries serving in our church area over for Thanksgiving one year. Only that time we were recording everything from the boring meal time itself to the after dinner exercise.
We got some footage of bouncing each other on the trampoline but the real fun begun somewhat unexpectedly with our 35 foot rope swing. My brothers and I had become expert at jumping off stumps, wrapping around trees, raising our feet up on the side of the tree, and swinging back around toward the original launch point. We gave the missionaries a try.
“Get your feet up! Get your feet up!” We warned. Without fail, three different missionaries slammed up against the tree, wound up in between the rope and the tree, and then waited for it to uncoil and release them. The awkward position would inevitably loose their grip and send them sliding down the trunk to the ground writhing in pain.
It was definitely the kind of slapstick humor that needed to be on AFV but we never sent it in.
“No Movie is Worse than . . .” By Chad Robert Parker
The voice of the comic book guy on the Simpsons is swirling through my head, saying “Worst movie ever!” Usually if you ask me my opinion on what is my favorite this or what is the worst that, it might be a toss up, but not in this case. One movie stands out all on its own, “High Strung,” from 1991.
It may be one of those moments when you have to be there to really understand how bad it is. You might even feel tempted now to watch this movie. Don’t! Take my word for it. You know what it is like to keep watching something because you figure it just has to get better. It doesn’t! As I sat there watching this irritable guy complaining to the camera about anything and everything in the narrow scope of this film, including a fly flying around the room, I realized there was more entertainment in the boring room around me than was contained in the film. I lay there watching my brothers raised eyebrows and my mom asking us what the movie was about in between busying herself preparing food. We couldn’t even explain what the movie was about except to say he, the only person we had seen on screen, was waiting for something to happen at 8 o’clock. The plot is so lackluster that I can’t even explain to my friends just how far and away it is the worst movie I have ever sat through. Hint: Fast forward to the end. Something finally happens but its not worth waiting for in real time.
There is at least the disclaimer of a small budget, but this film is also the reason I can’t sit through most independent films unless they show early and often that they are different. Strangely enough Jim Carrey has a small role in “High Strung” in his early career. If I were him I would find all copies of this movie and destroy them out of existence. But hey, at least it gives this movie critic a definitive example of the worst movie I know of.
“Freeze ’em out,” by Chad Robert Parker
The prank I remember most as a kid was when my oldest brother rolled up the biggest snowball he could carry to my dad’s hot tub. My dad proclaimed that he wouldn’t dare. My brother says he didn’t intend to dump it into the tub at all, but between chuckling, my dad startling him, and gravity’s effect on the slippery ball of coldness it splashed in, created a wave, and left both my dad and my brother’s jaws on the floor. My brother ran for his life and my dad locked all of the doors, freezing him out in the cold hours of the night.
We grew up knowing that my dad did not like to be the butt of practical jokes. We also didn’t test others in the household much either, as it usually was taken as a show of disrespect. In college I discovered that others saw it quite the opposite, like more of a sign of respect, even interest, or love.
Some girls in a neighboring apartment complex played the best prank on us one time, when they packed our front door with snow in the middle of the night. They even had a good start on our back entry-way before we caught on. Whether it be a classic piece of cold ice down the back or having your car plowed in, ice sure can be just the trick to inconvenience anyone, enemy or friend.
My brothers and I took a lesson from our youth. We realized that we could go back and forth all year long trying to best each other or we could prank our pranksters by not pranking them at all. That’s the funny thing about pranking. You can stop someone in their tracks without even going through all of the hassle and effort of literally freezing them out. The mere threat of danger is often worse than the prank itself, and we made sure to mention every possible prank the girls could expect might be waiting for them at their door, or otherwise, on any given day. It was fun holding that proverbial bucket of water over their heads.
“Haunted Asylum,” by Chad Robert Parker
My first year in college I went to a haunted house that was closed down the next year for questions of safety. You see it was held on the grounds of the mental hospital and some of the patients were involved in participating as ghouls, ghosts, and spooks of all kinds. I remember it being much like any other haunted house where they were not allowed to actually touch you, but I also remember feeling some concern that the one with the chainsaw (even without it having a chain on) might be mentally ill rather than a staff member.
I was a freshman and my roommates were all upperclassmen. Good thing we brought a few girls to scream and hide or the attention of these masqueraders would have surely been directed on me. As it was I rather enjoyed watching the girls run from these certifiably insane people. I’m not sure what the political correct term is when you are being chased like that. My friend chose to yell, “get these crazies away from me,” which only seemed to increase their fervor. I wouldn’t say it was a traumatic event, but the event achieved its motive of terrifying the crowd. I wondered how many other instances like this occurred. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Your mind runs wild when you think of what frightening behavior people might be capable of.
Like I said, they closed the draw down the next year. Yeah, I for one was disappointed I couldn’t go again. I heard they might open it up, again.
“School Daze,” by Chad Robert Parker
My family moved when I was five years old and I transferred schools in the middle of Kindergarten. The second program focused on the phonetic alphabet and the first program focused on whatever the opposite of that is called. I learned the letters in the first school, but the second school wanted to focus on the sounds. Confused? I was.
My new Kindergarten teacher would put me in a chair everyday and then place headphones on my ears. I had never interacted with a computer quite like that before. It didn’t register at first that I was supposed to be following along and writing something on a page rather than waiting for the audio story to begin.
First, the voice gave me an instruction to write my name at the top of the page. I was curious to see where this was going. Then it proceeded to instruction number two, three, and four about the sounds of letters. By this point I was yawning and my teacher would come by and wonder why I hadn’t completed the first step. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no dummy. I may not have known very many of the other answers even if I had tried, but I knew how to put my name on the page. I just didn’t see the point in it.
Why do a boring assignment when not doing it would result in me being sent to the coloring table every day.
I spent my Kindergarten class time becoming an artist.
“My turn to drive,” by Chad Robert Parker
Driver’s Ed was a comedy of errors. Most high school students in my car had driven on a farm many times over. For me Driving School was my first chance behind the wheel, so most of the errors were mine.
My instructor had many quirks I had heard about. I knew he did not believe in deodorant and his odor accelerated with the stress of teaching driving. He had a habit of picking his nose and flicking the boogers out the window. What I didn’t know is he took it for granted that some kids had never paid much attention to driving. Coming from a large family, and usually avoiding the drama of fighting over the front seat, I was a back seat learner.
My first mistake was asking how to turn the turn signal off. My instructor showed me by jerking the steering wheel just to change lanes. I figured out later that the steering wheel was not the only way to get the turn signal to turn off.
My mimicry of one of my peers didn’t go unnoticed. He squealed tires pulling into a parking spot but parked perfectly within the lines. My attempt was not so good. I was practically sideways.
My friends describe the time I came to a “T” in the road. The instructor did not say “right” or “left” when I asked for his directions. I ended up going straight, only I skidded to a stop just before launching off the road. They tell me they were afraid every time it was my turn to drive. Luckily for them I was better than my older brother who literally jumped railroad tracks when he failed to slow down for a hill. Luckily for small town Indiana the Parker boys escaped Driver’s Ed without greater incident.
“Sleep driving” by Chad Robert Parker
I could not conceive how real the danger of sleeping at the wheel was until I nearly drove off of the road. My dad was in the passenger side. We were making the 24 hour trek from Indiana to Utah. I think we were somewhere in Nebraska.
My dad can shell a mouthful of sunflower seeds with his tongue to keep his mind awake, a trick he learned from trucking. We don’t drink coffee considering how caffeine leaves you lower than before the brief high. I’m personally not as fond of sunflower seeds and they say turning up the radio among other things is not very effective for most. I watched entranced as the middle lines went by on an endless stretch of well-paved road ahead. The sun blurred waves sat on the horizon. The rumble strip got my attention. “Are you all right?” My dad asked. I looked at him groggily and nodded. It was embarrassing. There wasn’t any reason for me to be tired already. I had been napping a few times in route before getting in the driver’s seat. I had only been driving an hour. The rumble strip sounded again. “Are you sure you are all right?”
“Yeah, I just got out of my lane a little.” I felt a little more self aware now. I was tired but I wouldn’t fall asleep would I? I went a good distance farther. The next time I went over the rumble strip I had half of the car over the outside line. My dad placed his hand on the wheel. He instructed me to pull over. It scared me to think how easily I could have veered off into a ditch. I apologized and he assured me that it was okay to let someone else drive even though I hadn’t given anyone much relief time. I was asleep in the passenger side within a few minutes of that conversation.