Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health


I first noticed the TV ads for the book (which was published in 1950) in the late 80s during the cartoon/syndicated sitcom hours of 4-6pm, if I remember correctly. A strange block of airtime to flog a strange belief system. The ads asked some pretty pointed questions, queries to which the answers were supposedly to be found within the pages of the book, like verses from the Bible. And then there was an animated erupting volcano, which I guess can mean whatever you want it to. It was very simple, but effective–if you are of a certain age, you probably remember these ads. As far as book sales went, they were tossing around numbers that would shame even McDonald’s (34 Billion copies sold or something) but heck, the Sci-Fi writer with the ship’s captain hat and deplorable oral hygiene was never anything less than grandiose.

Of course, in those days you couldn’t just hop on the internet and find out how impossibly silly the entire thing is, although I guess you could have bought the book and read it and found out pretty quick. I never did that. However, I like to think I have a closer connection to Scientology than most other non-believers thanks to the person at my gym who keeps leaving various “members only” periodicals in the communal magazine rack, organs with titles like “Source” and “Impact.” I take them home with me every time I see one and have built up quite a library! The words within, written in a version of English stuffed to bursting with words that are barely comprehensible to the layperson, are nevertheless endlessly fascinating. Am I tempted sometimes, as I page through these magazines late at night, to dig the platinum fillings out of my molars and sell that precious metal for the cash that will then allow me to take that first step onto the “Bridge?” Of course I do! But I’m never quite able to make the jump…

I’m a skeptic by nature, and I remember thinking to myself how hard it must be for the higher-ups responsible for promulgating this endlessly profitable scheme of psychological battery and financial slavery to keep a straight face while they prattle on about Thetans and Engrams and Xenu and Sea Org and OT Levels and Going Clear, but then I watched some clips of a few of their meetings and realized that David Miscavige–the current “Master,” if you will, and prime beneficiary of all those donated dollars– is pretty much grinning ear to ear during every speech he gives. Hell, wouldn’t you be?

Stephen King


According to his online bibliography, this human word processing machine published 14 books in the years 1980 to 1989. That’s a lot of words, and he’s never, ever slowed down, save for a couple of years when he had an unfortunate encounter with a wayward mini-van. His output since the 80s: 12 books in the 90s, 12 books in the Oughts and 6 so far in the 2KTeens.

I find this remarkable, especially since many of these books are 500+ pages long. A sobering fact for anyone who’s struggled to write a 176 character tweet. (It took me two hours to compose my congratulatory tweet to Iggy Azalea when she won the MOJO magazine Young Artist of the Year award last year

I’m personally partial to his 70s output. He made his name in that decade with some top-quality work. Books like Night Shift, Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Dead Zone, The Shining, and his post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Stand bossed the Best-Seller lists of the time like Randall Flagg battering Lloyd Henreid’s mind. But we are here to talk about the 80s. To me, the decade started off pretty weak–Firestarter was more of a damp squib in my eyes. Cujo’s claustrophobic canine horror show was a gripping return to form and Christine and Pet Sematary are prime King. I mean, the latter has a dead baby as one of the main characters, for God’s sake. When you can move over a million books with a subject like that, you are pretty much untouchable. He then decided to do a collaboration with Peter Straub–the result, a would-be epic entitled The Talisman, turned out to be a bore. Sometimes, one head is better than two.

King came back strong with the seemingly 7,000 page long It. I actually never read, um, it, but I did see the mini-series, and any book that leads to a man named Tim Curry playing a clown called Pennywise on national TV deserves one of them there Nobel thingies.

By then, I was losing interest fast, but I remember giving Misery a shot and enjoying it. “Hobbling”–what’s not to like?

I’m not sure about the rest and by rest, I mean the 30 or so books that followed. I’m sure some of them are pretty decent reads, I just don’t have enough time left to figure out which ones they are.

Donald Trump


Donald Trump in the 80s was quite a different kettle of rotted fish from the TV personality we (cough) “love” now. First off, he was relatively new and hadn’t yet been given enough time to do much damage. Even then, though, there was already something cartoonish about the fellow. Start with the name, which sounded every bit as manufactured as Stuart Goddard telling some coked-up MTV VJ his name was “Adam Ant.” Ridiculous. Except the Trump name was real–Donald was the baby prince of an already established scuzzball empire built by his father. The surname is an anglicized version of the Low German word “Drumpf.” And yes, just as you might have guessed, that translates to “toadstool” in English.

His two great accomplishments this decade were the construction of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and the 1989 release of the board game Trump: The Game.  The Trump Tower is everything you’d expect from something that was unveiled in the go-go 80s–tons of the “world’s finest marble” and heaps of the “planet’s rarest brass” all slapped together in the public areas to no memorable effect, but the black monolithic exterior does have a dozen or so live trees growing out of it, so you can give Trump credit for being a brave pioneer of sustainability if you want to. As for Trump: The Game, not enough people ever played it for history to record whether or not it was any fun, but I can say that as far as its name goes, it doesn’t hold a candle to the one released last year by a certain LA rapper called The Game: The Game.

His woman of choice for this decade was Ivana and she was very blond and very tall and liked to tell little fibs about being on the 1972 Czechoslovakian Olympic ski team. I don’t think she ever accomplished anything other than bringing three more Trumps into the world (readers can decide for themselves whether that is an actual accomplishment or something more akin to a criminal act) but her first name does comprise exactly one-half of my all-time favorite drag queen stage name: Ivana Koch.

Since this blog only covers a brief ten year period I am unable to discuss all the mischief he’s caused in the past 30 years or so, like trying to pave over half the Scottish Highlands or threatening to bum rush the White House every four years. He’s a hard man to look at, and recent rumors about him being the object of a new float in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade are worrisome. It probably won’t come off– The Donald would never cede control of his image to a bunch of mere designers and float makers, but if he does insist on “playing himself” this coming November, organizers will hardly need to pump in any helium in order to send his bloated corporeality skyward.

Tom Clancy


Was he REALLY just a small-town insurance agent turned writer? Do you really think some “average guy from Maryland” was able to draw such meticulous renderings of the inner workings of America’s most glorious instruments, both martial and diplomatic, of the post-détente Cold War by reading Popular Science magazine and attending gun shows?  No, Clancy was a mole. A mole who had infiltrated the U.S. Government on behalf of the U.S. Government, but a mole nonetheless. The full facts of his only recently-ended mission probably won’t see the light of day for another 100 years, if ever. I have a feeling it was part of a covert operation to instill pride and patriotism in those American citizens who were sorely lacking it (like Chris Jackson and Roseanne Barr), but who knows?

If you don’t believe me, just take a look at his dust cover jacket photos over the years. He’s always standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier or sitting in a fighter jet. Do you think the powers that be are wont to allow any Joe Schmoe writer and his accompanying photographer to stroll about and around these kinds of top-secret billion-dollar pieces of machinery so they can get some “good snaps” for their publishing house? Yeah, right, just try it sometime and see, but make sure your last will and testament is in proper order. Because they will destroy you.