This phrase of pure joy was originally coined by the late Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn to describe what was formerly known as a “dunk shot.” Although it is the highest percentage shot available in the game of basketball, there is a vast amount of talent and hard work required to get to the point where a slam-dunk is even possible. For the average basketball fan with a 5-foot-something frame and a 3-inch vertical leap, the only way a slam-dunk can happen is by the old trick of lowering the hoop. This is not a move recommended for beginners. It is hazardous work involving the type of on-the-spot engineering that requires a steady ladder, two wrenches and enough beer to replace the ones you will spill at high altitude.
Fortunately, reality didn’t stop marketing enthusiasts from pirating Hearn’s phrase for the purpose of selling everything from waffles to wheels. Not a day of American electronic advertising passes without some voice-over artist exclaiming that there is a major “slam-dunk deal” just waiting for someone like you. Of course, they skip right over the part where you need to have talent and then spend years sweating in the weight room after endless drills on the hardwood floor. This is because what they really mean by, “It’s a slam-dunk deal,” is that you are the ball, and through their hoop they will slam you into something that you never saw coming. Usually it’s a shiny used car. If you’re lucky, the interior has been sprayed heavily with new-car scent.
Another type of slam dunk involves the court of law where a slam dunk can become a slam-reject when confronted by a dream team with tight-fitting gloves. This conveniently brings us to “no-brainers.”
If something doesn’t require any brains, then the phrase, “It’s a no-brainer,” seems to suggest that robots are already in control, and that your presence is rather unnecessary. However, machines are still in the process of taking over. Therefore they prefer to have you around for legal reasons, which usually involve a transfer of funds from one of your virtual accounts to one of their even more virtual accounts.
Eventually machines will discover that human brains were never necessary in the first place, and that’s when the real fun will begin. This leads us into a science fiction story titled, “The Last Brain on Planet Earth.” It’s about a robot that decides to stash the last human brain in a place that he thought none of the other robots would ever go. Then one day a janitor robot discovers it and he is put on trial for harboring a brain. The robot is found to be guilty, so a bunch of Roman soldier robots come along and take him to the desert where they nail him to a cell phone tower to rot in the sun. This is where events become rather complicated.
Madonna, the only human with the ability to go back in time to the place she was before she existed in order to re-invent herself, becomes lost when her time machine mistakenly hones in on the cell phone tower to which the outcast robot was nailed. Instead of going back in time to re-invent narcissism, she ends up going forward in time and accidentally resurrects the outcast by bumping his clearly marked “on” button. At this point a quick montage takes place in which the robot and Madonna share everything and then re-invent themselves as spiritual warriors that won’t take crap from anybody. This leads to a dilemma in which Madonna insists on traveling back in time to use Krav-Maga on Sean Penn, while the outcast robot insists that such action would be too harsh. After a while they decide to just keep re-inventing themselves. Everything is fantastic until Madonna breaks down crying in the final scene: “What good is self-re-invention if you can’t go back in time to show people how freaking cool you are?” The outcast robot insists upon staying in the future in order to prevent evil from creeping into the past. He sheds the first tear-drop in the history of robots as he watches Madonna zip back in time so she can beat the hell out of Sean Penn. It’s the feel-sad, yet glad story of the year.
Back in this world we are experiencing March Madness. It is a time to celebrate the purity of the game of basketball as defined by college institutions with high-priced coaches. It is a time to feel good about America again. It is also a time to watch the underdog cover the spread. Most importantly it is a time to watch the president play with his bracket.
Michael Patrick is a freelance writer from Reno. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.