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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The ‘Have It Your Way’ Warrior

I recently caught a couple episodes of that new show Deadliest Warrior on Spike. It’s an interesting series — very much in the chest-thumping, fist-pounding, primal-grunting mold the network seems to be cultivating. I can only imagine their program directors are Al Bundy, Koko the gorilla and those metro-Neanderthals from the insurance commercials.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this particular nugget of modern testosteronalated entertainment, each week the show staff picks two groups legendary for their ferocity, ruthlessness, and/or wartime savvy, and then scientifically explores the tactics and weaponry of each. This is in order to answer the sorts of burning questions that we men apparently struggle with, like ‘Would a Yakuza mobster totally waste a Roman gladiator?‘ or ‘How long would a Viking berserker last against a pissed-off Kamakura shogunate samurai?

(Personally, these are not the kinds of dilemmas that keep me awake at night, mostly. But if the show started with any combination besides ‘pirate vs. ninja’, then those Spike people are raving idiots.

“But when you find yourself watching some skinny tanned actor in full Native American regalia chucking arrows at a fat pasty guy in a gladiator helmet shaking a trident, you wonder whether the kids at Spike have had one too many sweaty Star Trek holodeck fantasies.”

And ninjas would totally kick pirate ass.)

Anyway, it’s entertaining. And some of the sciency parts, though dicey — ‘This Apache tomahawk generates enough damage per square inch to slice through a water buffalo, or possibly the Chrysler building‘ — are pretty interesting, too. I’m down with the head-to-head angle for the show, too. In fact, for my money, there’s just one teensy little problem with the concept.

They’ve gone and gotten it all wrong.

Look, I understand they’re doing the ‘manly’ thing for the ‘manly’ network, and that’s fine. These warrior cultures and mob cliques and such are appropriately violent, sure, and the science bits elevate the show — barely — above the level of a Rambo movie marathon loop. Think ‘Mr. Wizard’ meets ‘Faces of Death’, with a dash of history and high-speed cameras thrown in.

The problem for me is, it’s all just a little too far-fetched. At the end of the show, the guys apply what they’ve learned, and enact — not ‘re-enact, obviously — what it might look like if one of Attila’s Huns met a Navy SEAL. And frankly, it looks pretty ridiculous. Yes, it’s the result of dozens of computer simulations, and precise calculations based on armor quality, weapon damage and military techniques. But when you find yourself watching some skinny tanned actor in full Native American regalia chucking arrows at a fat pasty guy in a gladiator helmet shaking a trident, you wonder whether the kids at Spike have had one too many sweaty Star Trek holodeck fantasies. And whether they go home at night and make their Xena action figures make out with their metal bikini Princess Leia dolls.

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I mean, to me, Padme and Gabrielle would make way more sense. But I’m not a bigshot network executive; what the hell would I know about pairing up fictional female characters in skimpy costumes?

Oh, stop looking at me like that. You know Aeon Flux and the Lady of the Refrigerator would totally kick ass together.

That’s right. It’s a gift. I can feel your envy.)

Anyway, where the hell was I? Oh, Deadliest Warrior, right.

So my problem with the whole deal is that it just doesn’t look right to pit these soldiers and ninjas and guerrillas from up and down the historical timeline against each other. And I think I have a better, more modern idea. Here are a few of the ‘Deadliest‘ head-to-head battles I’d suggest for future episodes:

DMV clerk vs. IRS auditor:

Long-range weapon: Orange traffic cones vs. large scientific calculator

Short-range weapon: Number two pencil vs. red ink pen

Defensive tactic: ‘THIS WINDOW CLOSED’ sign vs. threat of federal incarceration

Special attack: Ugly-enhancing flash photo vs. long lectures on fiscal responsibility

VERDICT: Both competitors are scary, and legendary in their own time. And while the DMV clerk’s traffic cone maze and pencil jabs would certainly slow the auditor down, the specter of ‘the gubment’ coming to get you would no doubt send the DMV lackey into a blind panic.

In the end, this hotly-contested battle comes down to the special attacks. Grim though they are, the ass-ugly license photos are over in just a few seconds. A stern talking-to from an IRS auditor all lathered up over frivolous exemptions — like deductions for orange cone polishing, perhaps? — can last hours, if not days. This fight is a marathon, not a sprint, and the advantage goes to: IRS auditor.

Cable guy vs. contract electrician:

Long-range weapon: Beat-up cable company van vs. dilapidated electrician pickup truck

Short-range weapon: cable snips vs. wire cutters

Defensive tactic: Not showing up on time vs. not showing up, possibly ever

Special attack: Talking you into phone/internet package vs. overcharging by 300%

VERDICT: The vehicles are a wash. The little clippy snippers are a wash. And bilking you out of most of your money — while both expected and very annoying — is also pretty much a wash.

However. No matter how small or unrealistic a window the cable company gives you, or how many excruciating hours later that the guy finally shows up, the cable guy does, most of the time, arrive at the fight on the specified day. Contractors, on the other hand — particularly electrical contractors? You’d be lucky to see them in the same month as when they say they’ll be there. And you can’t kill what never bothered to drive out to the battlefield in the first place. Advantage: contract electrician.

Quaker Oats guy vs. Burger King king:

Long-range weapon: Rock-hard granola bars vs. incendiary Whoppers

Short-range weapon: Instant oatmeal packets vs. floppy French fries

Defensive tactic: Wicked scary costume vs. wicked scary costume

Special attack: High-fiber bathroom marathons vs. high-fat explosions

VERDICT: The creep factor is through the roof with these two. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re the only ones who could possibly fight the other; I sure as hell wouldn’t get within fifty yards of one of these freaks. So, who wins the actual battle?

None of the weapons are particularly powerful — though an oatmeal bar square to the noggin might leave a nasty bruise. And they both have the ability to debilitate their opponents with long, painful forays into the bathroom. But while the Quaker’s fare is (allegedly) good for you, the King can kill you in a number of ways — immediately with a heart attack, less speedily with cholesterol, and long, slow and painfully with complications from supersize-mediated obesity.

It’s a formidable arsenal. Add to that the scary visage and comprehensive media blitz, and this might well be the deadliest dude of all time. I’m thinking the King might even stand up to those crafty ninjas. Think about it — you ever see a chubby ninja, with high blood pressure and fry-grease fingers? Me, either. I’m just sayin’.

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