This weekend many were saddened to learn that Vernon Winfrey, the man Oprah calls her father passed away from cancer.
When Oprah was a pregnant runaway living in Milwaukee, her mother sent her to a juvenile detention centre.
“What am I doing here?”, thought Oprah, who felt she was too good and too smart to end up in such a place. Luckily there were not enough beds so Oprah was sent to live with the legendary Vernon Winfrey, a Nashville barber.
The first thing Vernon and his wife Zelma did was make her scrub off her makeup and dress like a lady. The next thing they insisted on was that she get all As on her report card and do book reports. That was fine with Oprah who had been reading since age three.
Soon Oprah was setting Nashville on fire by winning oratory contests, becoming Miss Fire Prevention, a local radio personality, and Miss Black Nashville and Miss Black Tennesse. All this from a girl was not yet 18.
Had it not been for Vernon taking in the brilliant teen, she feels she might have ended up on welfare with multiple illegitimate kids but instead she became the richest African American of the 20th century and the most influential woman on the planet.
Cro-Magnon man dominated Europe from about 45,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago. Although they are sometimes considered the first Whites, they are actually only one of three races that gave rise to the white race (the other two being Anatolian farmers and steppe pastoralists).
Draw-A-Man IQ test
Long ago I looked at their cave art, with an emphasis on drawings of people, so I could apply Dale Harris’s revision of the beloved Goodenough Draw-A-Man IQ test. The first drawing of a man I found was discovered in South-western France and believed to be 17,000 years old. It’s known as “The Wounded Man”.
The Goodenough Harris Draw-A-Man test has a maximum raw score of 73, but because this drawing depicted the man with the head of a bird, not a human, 13 of the items dealing with features unique to the human head could not be scored, so it ended up with a score of 22/60 which I then prorated to 27/73.
Another mysterious cave painting found in the cavern known as ‘The Sanctuary’ at Trois-Frères, Ariège, France, made around 15,000 years ago is known as “The Sorcerer”.
Unfortunately this too is a man-animal hybrid, and the animal features made some of the items inapplicable, in this case, the six items dealing with clothing (items #29,#55,#56,#57,#58 and #59), but out of the remaining 67 items, the picture scored 49, which I prorated into a score of 53/73.
Averaging the two drawings together, Cro-Magnon man scored 40/73 on the Goodenough-Harris Draw-A-Man test. The smoothed mean and standard deviation for U.S. 15-year-olds (considered adult level for the purpose of this test) is 45.2 and 9.83 respectively, so this equates to an IQ of 92 (U.S. norms) or 90 (U.S. white norms). But because these norms were published in 1963, I originally adjusted for the Flynn effect to determine how they might score by today’s standards, however further research (which I have not yet published) shows Draw-A-Man appears to have no Flynn effect. It may be one of the few genuinely culture reduced tests.
Of course with a sample size of only two people, we can’t be very confident that Cro-Magnon had a mean IQ of 90 (U.S. white norms). But there are two reasons why the figure is quite plausible. First Native Americans have a mean IQ of 92, and like Cro-Magnon man, Native Americans evolved as cold adapted hunter-gatherers so their IQs should be similar.
Second, as Peter Frost recently noted, a new study found that polygenic scores for education (a proxy for IQ) continued to increase even after the Paleolithic by up to half a standard deviation, if the chart below is indicative and half an SD below modern Europe is about 90.
So back in 2020, Pew Research asked both Jewish Americans and all Americans about their income. This is an interesting question because in the famous NLSY database used to write the book The Bell Curve, the sample of Jews scored 0.87 standard deviations (SD) higher (13 IQ points) than Americans as a whole on the AFQT. Given about 0.39 correlation between IQ and household income (in a given year) (see table 3), we’d expect Jews to be 0.39(0.87) = +0.34 SD in income.
The normalized distribution of Jewish household income
How close did my predictions come? Hard to say because household income is not normally distributed so applying linear regression to it is problematic.
One theoretical solution is to force income to a bell curve. This I did by comparing the highest and lowest income groups in the poll and finding their respective percentile with respect to both Jewish Americans and all Americans. Each percentile was than assigned its corresponding Z score on a theoretical normal curve.
Thus, if U.S. household income is forced to fit a normalized Z score curve which by definition has a mean and SD of 0 and 1 respectively, the Jewish mean and SD are 0.85 and1.2 respectively, about half an SD higher than expected from the IQ-income correlation.
Of course this is all very rough, because when two different distributions are FORCED to fit bell curves, one can’t assume the two bell curves will fit each other, but this is a very subtle point that few of you have the IQ to worry about.
In the final scenes of the films, the killer (played by Betsey Palmer) has hacked to death everyone at the camp to avenge the drowning of her mentally disabled son Jason, except for Alice who is the lone survivor, who battles the killer on the beach.
But when Alice finally grabs the machete, she is able to vanquish her assailant once and her for all.
The killer gets her head chopped off. The Queen of the Slashers gets a death worthy of a queen.
At this point an exhausted Alice collapses into the canoe and drifts into the lake under the guiding light of the full moon.
As night turns to morning on the placid lake, we are greeted by the most beautiful music I have ever heard in a horror film. Something about film cameras in 1979 made the gorgeous green, orange and pink colours of the changing fall leaves and their reflection on the lake just pop. As the police approach on the shore, we know Alice is going to be all right, and…
Just when we least expect it, the corpse of Jason (the killer’s son who drowned decades earlier) pops out of the very lake he drowned in to drag Alice to her death.
Cut to Alice screaming in a hospital bed. Apparently it was all a dream. Or was it? The police found her floating in the lake, put didn’t find the boy she claimed pulled her in, with Alice strangely saying “then he’s still there.”
Still there meaning his corpse is still at the bottom of the lake where he drowned decades earlier, or still there, meaning a zombie is still on the loose? It’s all left so beautifully ambiguous as we cut once again to a shot of the beautiful lake and its majestic Fall colours. Cue beautiful music.
Apparently, the idea of the final jump scare came from a producer who had just seen Carrie (1976) which had ended with a similar dream jump scare, where the heroine visits Carrie’s grave, only to have Carrie’s arm reach out from beneath the ground:
But when Friday the 13th quickly became one of the most successful horror films of all time with lineups around the block, the film’s producers began demanding a sequel that continued the story.
Continued what story? The killer was beheaded and Jason returning from the dead was just a dream. But the producer’s wanted Jason to come back so part 2 opens with Jason stalking Alice at her own home a couple months later, and what makes this so creepy is he’s suddenly a grown man.
So while Alice being pulled into the lake by the zombie of an 11-year-old drowned boy was just a dream, it foreshadowed an even creepier reality: Jason never drowned at all but survived in the woods all those years and was now a grown-ass man wanting revenge for the beheading of his mother. I think that’s absolutely brilliant, but the creators of the original film thought it was the dumbest idea they ever heard and had little to do with the sequels.
Nonetheless when they saw all the money the franchise would gross with 10 sequels, and a remake, a brief TV show and video games, novels and comics, original screen writer Victor Miller, who was only paid perhaps 5 figures in 1979, sued to gain rights to the series. The judge gave him ownership of Jason as a child, but not the hulking hockey masked homicidal maniac he’d become as an adult.
In my last articles we learned that Alice is the sole survivor at Camp Blood, and the slasher is revealed to be the grieving mother (played by Betsy Palmer) of Jason, a mentally retarded boy who drowned at the camp decades earlier.
For some reason this scene feels so iconic. Alice throws stuff at the killer but the killer keeps coming.
Alice throws a ball of yarn, the killer punches it away. Alice throws something at the killer. The killer deflects it with her chin.
Finally Alice throws her arms up as if in surrender.
This is reminiscent of the girl who got killed back at the start of the movie back in 1957.
At the start of the film this was a freeze frame moment and the films title came crashing through the screen with opening credits. So perhaps when Alice did the same thing, they could have freeze framed it with the film’s title crashing through the screen with closing credits. That might have been a good note to end on, but the film’s actual ending was so much more brilliant, and we’ll discuss that in the next article.
Alice finds herself all on a secluded camp ground late at night. Outside are the dead bodies of all the other camp counselors and the killer who killed them, lurking somewhere in the dark forest under the full moon.
But at least Alice is safe locked in the cabin. Suddenly the corpse of her co-worker Brenda comes flying through the window which means the killer is right outside and can now get in through the smashed window. All she can do is guard the window with a sharp object.
But from the distance she sees the headlights of a jeep driving into the campground. It must be Steve, the owner of the camp finally returning. Little does she know Steve is dead. She runs out to greet him, only to find an all American soccer mom coming out of the jeep.
“Who are you?” she asks
“…an old friend of the Christies”
If Alice looks like the girl next door, this lady looks like the lady next door. She’s the kind of lady every middle class kid in American has known their whole life. She might have been your teacher, or your mom, or your best friend’s mom.
The actress who played her was Betsy Palmer. Palmer was a fixture on daytime TV during the wholesome days of the 1950s, much like June Cleaver. My grandmother used to watcher on the game show I’ve got a secret.
On the most terrifying night of her life, it feels so good to see a face she can trust, the all American soccer mom, the girl scout leader, the lady down the street, here to rescue Alice from camp blood & drive her to safety with her jeep. Alice gives her a big hug as if reuniting with her own mother.
Making matters even better, she’s a strong strapping woman who can protect Alice from whoever is killing everyone. The ultimate girl scout leader. She worked at the camp in her youth and knows the place inside out.
As a kid I remember being so relieved when Palmer took over. She exuded leadership and competence. All I knew about the F13 movies at the time was that the reason Jason killed people was because the camp killed his mother. But why did the camp kill his mother I asked by British Pakistani babysitter one day. Because his mother was a witch who killed people, she said.
I probably took the term “witch” a little too literally and was looking forward to Palmer and Alice heading into the woods like Hansel and Gretel to find the witch’s cabin.
But instead the film took a very different turn which I so stupidly didn’t see coming, despite having had the huge advantage of knowing the killer was a woman. But I was only nine.
The sheer genius of this film is it had the goriest most graphic most spooky killings we had ever seen (axe to the face, arrow through the mattress from someone hiding under the bed) being performed by the most wholesome person we had ever seen cast as a killer (Palmer).
My favorite part was when she said “Oh I could never let them open this place again, could I?” almost asking Alice to talk her out of her killing spree.
But perhaps the scariest moment is when Palmer pulls out her hunting knife and charges Alice while screaming “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH”
Part of what makes this so scary is how insane she is. She is killing people for the drowning of her son, even though those people were not even born at the time. And the way she slips from competent and coherent to batshit crazy is so spooky. Is this schizophrenia do you think? Or early onset Alzheimer’s? I wish the character had taken the WAIS.
One may ask how someone as respectable as Palmer got cast in such a gruesome low budget horror film. Her Mercedes broke down and she needed $10 K to get a new car.
“Universe find me $10,000” dollars she remembered saying. I wonder if she’s an Oprah fan because Oprah is always preaching to put thoughts into the universe though Oprah was not famous until several years later, but maybe how she much later described the story was influenced by Oprah-speak.
Either way, she was soon offered a part which paid $1000 day for 10 days work.
There’s just one catch. It’s a horror film.
“Oh no,” said Palmer. “Well send me the script.”
“What a piece of shit!” she recalled saying after reading it. “This will come and this will go. No one will see it”
Little did she know it would become the influential horror film of the last 50 years, though the role of Palmer herself has been largely forgotten, eclipsed by the iconic hockey masked Jason.
But that’s why I love the film so much. Everyone knows about Jason but so few know how it all began and the brilliant role Palmer played in its genesis. The film is the ultimate hidden gem.
At first Palmer was embarrassed to be associated with such a cheap gory film but over time she came to embrace her iconic status as Queen of the Slashers. Sometimes while shopping in the store she would hear mysterious customers behind her whispering the film’s terrifying sound track:
Ha ha ha
Chu Chu Chu
Betsy Palmer: 1926 to 2015
RIP America’s sweetheart turned Queen of the Slashers
For most of the movie camp owner Steve Christie has been out on the town drinking coffee. Little does he know that while he was gone, several of the camp councilors he hired had been brutally murdered and that he’s about to meet the same fate. When the rain stops, he runs back to the camp in pitch blackness, only to be confronted by someone shining a bright white light in his face.
“Oh hi,” he says, recognizing the person. “What are you doing out in this mess?” (referring to the storm that juste ended)
The killer stabs him in the stomach with a machete as if to say “I’m killing you, that’s what I’m doing out in this mess”
Meanwhile the only survivors are Bill and Alice. Alice is getting scared because they can’t find any of the other counselors and even found a blood soaked axe in someone’s bed, but Bill convinces her that everything is probably fine.
Still, they try to leave the camp but the vehicle wont start. They try to phone for help but the phone line has been cut. Finally the power goes out and Alice gets some rest as Bill heads to the emergency generator to fix it.
Alice wakes up and decides to make some instant coffee and then goes looking for Bill.
To her utter horror, she finds his corpse pinned to a wall, with an arrows stabbing him in the eye, stomach and private parts.
It is interesting that a film about white people doing stereotypical white things (camping) would have a white killer killing with a bow and arrow (the white man’s first display of dominance over other races). There is an argument that the bow and arrow was invented in Africa long before modern humans split into other races but I don’t buy it and one of the reasons I don’t buy it is that if the bow and arrow was created by such an early ancestor, they’re descendants in Australia would have had it and their descendants in Native America would have had it sooner.
After discovering Bill’s corpse, a terrified Alice runs screaming back to the main cabin, realizing she is now all alone in the big dark camp in the middle of nowhere, with no one to protect her.
Today is June 13th (the same day as the film takes place).
Camp counselors Jack and Marcie are making love in a cabin during a rain storm
Lightening flashes and we see that in the bunk bed above their own, Ned is now dead:
Meanwhile Marcie has to pee so she leaves Jack alone in the lower bunk as she flees into the rainstorm clad only in a shirt and underwear, in search of a washroom. As Jack lights a cigarette a drop of blood from Ned’s corpse falls on his head. Before he has a chance to get up and investigate, the killer (who was under the bed the whole time Jack and Marcie were making love) panics and stabs him with an arrow from under the bed. Perhaps the most creative death scene in the history of horror:
Meanwhile Marcie is still peeing so the killer crawls out from under the bed towards the washrooms. Marcie hears someone has entered the washroom but when she can’t find anyone in either change room, she convinces herself “must be my imagination”.
But as soon as she says that we see the shadow of a huge axe rising on the wall behind her. She turns around and screams as the axe come flying into her face.
In my last article I discussed how crazy Ralph tried to warn Annie not to go to camp blood. She ignored his warning and was immediately killed.
Now a police officer is visiting “Camp Blood” to see if Ralph has been harassing them too. The police sees camp councilor Ned Rubenstein goofing off by pretending to be a Native American and he’s having none of it. This scene is wildly politically incorrect by today’s standards and the film gets no woke point for featuring a Jewish character in the main cast in 1980 because Jews were by then already doing well (though not nearly as well as today). One of the tropes of 80s slasher films is the practical joker and that trope appears to have started with Ned.
One of the counselors is played by Kevin Bacon who gives a lame line about not smoking because it causes cancer. The councilors inform the cop they have not seen Crazy Ralph and he leaves them alone.
One of these practical jokes is pretending to drown so that a hot girl will give him mouth to mouth. Through POV shots we see the killer is watching from within the forest and is not amused. Actor Kevin Bacon would admit to Howard Stern that he put something in his speedo to appear more endowed in this scene.
A little later, counselor Alice discovers Ralph hiding in the pantry.
In my last article I discussed the opening scene where an unlucky pair of camp councillors were murdered on Friday, June 13th 1958.
In the next scene we fast forward to Friday June 13th, 1980.
It was a common trope for 1980s slashers to be divided into a past event, where an unspeakable event occurred, and then the present day (which somehow commemorates that evil event, often because it’s the same calendar day). This started with Halloween (1978) which like Friday the 13th (1980), opens with a murder on the same day many years before the day when the bulk of the film occurs.
In this film, the present day starts with an adorable girl next door type named Annie entering a diner to find out how far she is from Camp Crystal Lake.
Even 22 years after the brutal murders, the camp is still considered off-limits but a truck driver who is heading in that direction anyway agrees to drive her half way. If you look closely, you can see the only black or Afromultiracial person in the entire movie (he is holding a broom and standing silently, looking at Annie, as the clerk talks to her). Amazing how little diversity there was in slasher films as recently as the 1980s. Oprah would not smash the color barrier in U.S. media until 1986. These films serve as a time capsule of a bygone era.
As the truck driver takes Annie to his truck, she is confronted by the town crazy, an old man named Ralph who warns her she will never return from Camp blood. The warner is another trope of the 1980s slasher film, also originating with Halloween (1978) (the Donald Pleasence character), though Friday the 13th‘s crazy Ralph became the much more common prototype.
Although the truck driver tells Ralph to get lost, once they are on the road it becomes apparent he agrees with him and advises Annie to quit her job as camp cook. Like the day Friday the 13th itself, the camp seems cursed with bad luck. A couple murdered in 1958, a boy drowning in 1957, bad water in 1962, bunch of fires, and nobody knows who did any of it.
When the truck driver drops her off, Annie has to hitchhike the rest of the way to the camp. When a jeep pulls over to pick her up, she looks so happy and excited as she throws her stuff into the back of the vehicle and hops into the passenger seat.
But something is off. Annie keeps talking about how excited she is to be starting her dream job as camp cook but the driver is silent. The next red flag is when the driver zooms past the exit to get to Camp Crystal lake. When Annie tries to complain, the jeep just drives faster and faster forcing a terrified Annie to jump out and runs into the forest.
But we see the driver’s legs, clad in black pants and black shoes rushing after her. When Annie runs straight ahead, the driver runs left or right, so Annie can no longer see her stalker. She relaxes by a tree, only to see the driver suddenly looming over her, wearing a plaid lumber jack shirt and holding a huge knife.
Some say the film was paying homage to Marianne Crane in Hitchcock’s Psycho in that an attractive young lady is set-up to be the heroine, only to be killed off early.