Back in the 1980s we were saying "no" to drugs, just like the First Lady and Mr. T asked us to. We were saying "no" to drugs in so many ways - with terrible songs, with school rallies, and with promotional comic books published by electronics retailers! Can a comic book promote both saying "no" to drugs and showing American kids the wonder of computers? Let's find out!
Yes, it's Tandy Computers and their Whiz Kids Alec and Shanna, those two sharp 80s teens who weren't into Duran Duran or moonwalking or listening to their Walkman while playing with their Rubik's Cubes - they were into the fine computer products made by Tandy and sold in your local Radio Shack! But how can computers say "no" to drugs? Let's find out!
Cue the "Miami Vice" theme music - it's time to enter the sleazy, violent world of drug smuggling, represented here by White Disco Suit, Fidel Castro, and what appears to be an assistant at a fashion photo shoot, as their drug-smuggling boat putters along on its mission to smuggle drugs.
Remember it was White Disco Suit Ali's idea to use the Intracoastal Waterway to smuggle drugs! And this probably sounds like a great idea if you have no idea what the Intracoastal Waterway actually is!
What the Intracoastal Waterway is, is a shipping route just inland of the Eastern Seaboard that allows vessels to travel safe from the hazards of the Atlantic, like, say, storms or Nazi U-boats. What it is NOT is private or secluded or easy to get away from if you're spotted by the Coast Guard or Crockett & Tubbs (that's a Miami Vice reference, kids). If you want to deliver drugs up and down the Eastern seaboard, why not just rent a car and meet your connections at the many truck stops and Waffle Houses available?
Anyway, that's enough about drugs and truck stops. What's up with those Whiz Kids?
Looks like today's an exciting day in Whiz Kid Elementary - Ms. Wilson has not one, not two, but three surprises today, one of which is boxy and sits on a desk top and may perhaps be made by the Tandy Corporation of Fort Worth, Texas. Maybe.
Wow, it's a Tandy Color Computer 2 with "color disk drive" and a KLACK KLACK KLACK KLACK KLACK KLACKITY KLACK daisy wheel KLACK KLACKITY KLACK printer that's kind of noisy and a DC-1 Modem! AND it comes with an easy-to-use word processing program that has BOTH upper case AND lower case letters!
Still trying to figure out that "color" disk drive. Does it come in designer shades to match your decor? Will it change the text of your BASIC programs into all the colors of the rainbow? What?
How do you know so much about Tandy Color Computers and the whole line of amazing Tandy Computer products available at your local Radio Shack, Shanna? And why is one of our elementary school classmates a 45 year old black woman?
The RS-232 is an amazing device that connects your Tandy Color Computer with information services like "Compuserve" - over the phone lines! You can access sports scores, the weather, the stock market, oh, lots of things, as long as nobody else wants to use the phone. It's ALMOST as convenient as spending twenty-five cents for the daily newspaper. ALMOST.
Fun fact: CompuServe got bought by AOL and went through several iterations and is still around as a low-cost dialup ISP! THAT'S a surprise right there, Ms. Wilson.
Meanwhile our evil drugs smugglers refine their drug smuggling plan to include smuggling the drugs inside a Daisy Wheel Printer box. I want to see Fidel Castro here with his fatigues and his pistol saunter into his local Computerland and purchase a printer. "No I don't need the computer. I just need the printer!" That's not suspicious at all.
Your key to becoming a successful drug smuggler? Naps.
Our next school surprise is a police officer here to warn us about the dangers of drug use! Really? Because I went to school in the 80s and getting lectures about drugs from local authority figures was an every-day happening and not surprising at all and in fact led to many of us taking drugs simply in defiance of all the classroom time wasted on anti-drug lectures. Why teach 'em chemistry or algebra? Bundle those kids down to the gym for a "pep rally" or a "stop drugs" speech or something. Anything but teach.
"Do any of my planted shills in the audience have any leading questions concerning the advisability of trying illegal narcotics even once? Anybody? Yes, young man?"
Meanwhile fearless reporter Lois Lane... I mean, Judy Baker... recognizes two of our drug smugglers from a month old newspaper photo. DRUG SMUGGLING PRO TIP - Don't be like Harv and Marv here - try changing your appearance with a hat, a wig, anything but maintaining your zany "Fidel Castro & His Photo Assistant" cosplay.
Bad marina security is EVERYBODY'S PROBLEM. Intrepid female reporters can wander through the yachts at will! I could be sleeping in there!
Meanwhile what's happening at Whiz Kid School?
HOORAY MORE LEARNING ON THE TANDY COLOR COMPUTER 2! GOD BLESS OUR FORWARD THINKING SCHOOL BOARD AND THE GOOD PEOPLE AT THE TANDY CORPORATION!!
That snoopy reporter has just discovered the details of the smuggler's plans and is going to file her story right to the newspaper using her Tandy Model 200 which fits nicely into an enormous purse and that you can take everywhere you go and develop some amazing upper body strength while doing so.
Ya know Lois Lane, you COULD just use the telephone to call the newspaper and TELL them what's going on, you don't HAVE to use the Model 200... but she paid a lot of money for the Model 200 (a cool $999 back in 1985) and she's gonna use it!!
Getting old school here with the acoustic modem that you just placed the telephone receiver on top of, allowing the screeches and whistles of amazing computer language to flow across the phone lines, WREEEEE AWWKKKKK BLEEEEEEPPP BUNNNNNNNNN, man, I'm getting nostalgic already.
Puzzled by this new-fangled technology, our grizzled newspaper editor chews his cigar and reminisces of a time when he could call women 'dames' - and back at the boat Miss Reporter regrets wasting her time with the Model 200. Why didn't I just phone my story in? It's the curse of the early adopter to get kidnapped AND miss her date with the hunky narcotics officer!
DRUG SMUGGLING TIP #2 - Tempted to throw kidnapping into your crime mix? Look stupid you're a SMUGGLER. You gotta keep a low profile and fly under the radar, not phoning the cops sneering and demanding a million dollars and having to babysit a reporter all night long on your drug smuggling boat. But go ahead, do it your own way, see where it gets ya.
Surprise #3 was that our Computer Whiz Kids get to use all their Whiz Kid Power to move heavy boxes up some stairs at the Science & Technology Exhibit. That's right, you're super smart Whiz Kids, just put those boxes over there and go down for another load.
Kidnapped? That's terrible! And you only have two names to go on? If only there was a Tandy Color Computer 2 with RS-22 Program Pak and DC-1 Modem around somewhere! Oh, if only!
Once again this comic book hands us a situation that could easily be solved with a phone call to the newspaper. But Tandy isn't in the business of selling telephones here. It's computers or nothing!
That's one hell of a narcotics agent there, failing to recognize the weirdly ethnic name of a recently paroled drug smuggler. Now to Police Headquarters where we'll dig through our files and mug shots... oh, just kidding. We'll look it up in our Tandy Police Computers!
Officer Bill cuts through the bullshit and locates our smuggler/kidnapper with one phone call to the marina. One phone call! Take THAT Tandy Corporation!
How do we get her out of there past three armed kidnappers? And why is my face melting? And "trigger discipline" - what is THAT all about?
We're all relieved to learn that Coastal City's police force frogman squad is equipped with what I believe are ray guns. Probably manufactured by the Tandy Corporation.
And soon the Big Bucks and its crew of kidnapping smugglers are either captured or dead or something, I don't know. Ask your local Radio Shack about the Tandy XC-995 Ray Pistol and its range of effects.
Now a classy older lady - I think this is Barbara Stanwyck in "Big Valley" - will hand out awards to all the Whiz Kids and Whiz Adults involved in this amazing drug smuggling kidnapping daisy-wheel adventure.
Remember, the best way to fight drug smuggling is to say "no." The SECOND best way to fight drug smuggling is to spend hours on the computer tying up the phone lines looking up information easily obtainable elsewhere!
Now I know what you're saying, you're saying that at no point in this story does a computer actually say "no" to a pile of narcotics. Well, if you open your BASIC programming window, just enter the following:
10 PRINT "NO"
20 GOTO 10
and if you have your computer conveniently placed next to a kilo of mary jane, or a few vials of crack, or maybe some sheets of blotter, then by golly your computer will indeed be saying "no" to drugs.
What's that? You think 1985 era computers are too hard to use? Why pshaw, child, these things are easy as pie! In fact here's a handy step-by-step guide to loading the popular word processing program "Scripsit"!
Just turn on the power switch, wait for the "insert diskette" command, CAREFULLY insert the diskette into the slot, rotate the switch, wait for the light to go out, type the date and time (using a 24-hour system), and then examine the 'cells' for the storage information to find your document, and... aw, to hell with it, where's my typewriter?
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