Thursday, October 05, 2006

protecting our passwords

In old times, the guards of castles and medieval fortresses first used passwords as means of granting access to kings and queens. No one could cross the moat without ye knowing thy old password.

These days, passwords are also known as PINs and secret codes and crap like that. We need them for a lot more than crossing into the kingdoms of yore. We use them for just about everything. We practically can't take a leak without first punching in our access codes.

Given the almost-constant need for such stuff, we have taken to spicing up our passwords. There's a certain art form to developing such crucial, secret words. They say something about us. We use them, in a way, to define who we are and what we stand for.

I'd be willing to bet that Sandman has some sort of code that reflects his interest in a certain New York baseball club, sure as I have some that indicate an angst-ridden support for a team that wears brown and orange on Sundays in the fall.

In rare cases, passwords are elevated to greatness. Thus, I present you, the top three passwords in world history:

3. Super Password

As promised, no ordinary passwords make this list. In fact, this one is just plain Super.

If you don't remember the classic game show that ran from 1984 to 1989, you are letting some of the best in television gaming history pass you by. Hosted by the always-classy Bert Convy, Super Password was a staple in the weekday lineup.

Contestants were matched with a C-list celebrity, who attempted to communicate the password to the befuddled contestant using a series of clues. The puzzles got harder and harder as the game progressed, and winning contestants got to attempt a Cashword puzzle that was especially difficult.

It should be noted that Super Password occasionally upped its game and got top-of-the-line celebrities to intermingle with its lowly contestants. Local Shill's uncle, Richard Kline, was a regular contributor to the program.

When I was a lad, I used to fake illness so I could stay home from school and watch Super Password and Press Your Luck, among others. Fond memories.

(Regrettably, the hosts of these shows are both dead. Convy died of brain cancer in 1991 and Tomarken perished in a San Diego plane crash within the last year while piloting a flight for a charity that offers poor patients transportation to medical help).

2. Brocktoon.

You may remember this password from a 1991 episode of Saturday Night Live that featured Tom Hanks, as well as Luckytown-era musical guest Bruce Springsteen.

Members of the Mr. Belvedere fan club are meeting in a room with chairs, a setting reminiscent of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Tom Hanks is the chairman of the group, and the first order of business is deciding on a nickname for Mr. Belvedere.

But it's not just any nickname, it is a nickname that only members of this exclusive group know so they can identify each other in a strange town. A password, if you will.

"The Man Who Rides Alone" is quickly rejected, as is "Beacon of Bliss." Then someone offers up, "Brocktoon," which is put to a group vote and approved. There is a fan of Brocktoon who wants to kill him in Hinckley-esque fashion to impress a girl. But that vote fails.

Later in the skit, the rules and regulations of Belvedere fandom are discussed after it is learned that a fan has been killing Mr. Belveder's house pets. One fan recites, "I should like watching Mr. Belvedere a lot. I should not want to masturbate at the end of every episode."

It just gets more bizarre from there. Classic stuff. You have to wonder if it was written by Farley when he was high on coke.

1. Bosco.

In another incident of Seinfeld's brilliance, an entire espisode of the show is crafted around George Costanza's reluctance to give his ATM code to his fiancee, Susan.

While watching the comatose mother of J. Peterman, who is outside a hospital room discussing care with doctors, George cannot contain his secret any longer. Figuring the woman is near death, he says:

"I really should be getting back to my fiancee. You know, we, uh, we had this big fight yesterday and, uh, well she, wants to -- to know my secret code. I don't know. I can't tell her. The funny thing is, you know, I would really love to tell someone 'cause it's killing me.

"You uh, you wanna know what it is? It's Bosco. You know, the chocolate syrup? I love that stuff! I pour it in milk. It's my favorite drink. Hoo-hoo boy, that is a relief!"

Naturally, it becomes anything but a relief when Peterman's mother suddenly awakens from her coma and begins screaming "Bosco! Bosco!" to the alarm of her doctors. After uttering the secret word in her trance-like state a few more times, Mrs. Peterman passes away, leaving her final words a mystery to everyone but George.

Fast forward to the end of the episode. George rushes to a fire with Peterman following the funeral of his mother. There's a man stuck inside a smoke-filled ATM vestibule.

Peterman: "Look, there's a man in there. Get out of there, you're in danger!"

Man: "But my sleeve, it's stuck in the machine. It ate my card!"

Peterman: "George, give me your ATM card."

George: "I don't have my ATM card."

Peterman: "George, you're obviously lying. Anyone cans see that!"

George pulls out his wallet, Peterman grabs the card and it fits into the slot. But the door is jammed, so Peterman slides the card under the door to the man, who grabs it and slams it into the machine.

Man: "Now give me your code!"

George: "What?! Why?"

Man: "The machine won't open without the code!"

Peterman: "George, give him your code!"

George: "But I-I-I..."

Peterman: "There's no time George. Give him your code! Shout out your code, man!"

Thus ends another chapter in Seinfeldian brilliance.

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At 5:24 PM, Blogger Todd Cohen said...

Super Password was awesome....

Nothing like that classic whisper....."Thuh password is....Jerry"

And then the word giver would say with hand gestures in a voice that steadily got higher..."taaaaaaAAAAM and..."

I'll have to do that immitation next month for you...


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