I think this was a shitty movie that was popular during the 80's, but this node isn't about that.

Back to School is the phrase heard during mid-August and September of every year. It is used by retailers and advertisers to mark a new "season"'s commencement. Yes, it is autumn, but everything is aimed at student (youth) consumption. Massive amounts of money is spent on new wardrobes and school supplies- most of which are useless gadgets for school that you lose by November.

A funny movie of 1986 starring Rodney Dangerfield, Sally Kellerman, Burt Young, Ned Beatty, and Robert Downey Jr. in his first acting role.

The premise is simple, Dangerfield is a rich businessman. His son is unenthusiastic about college, so he moves in with him to get a degree. It's funny because he tries using his money to solve all his problems, he gets three dorm rooms and converts it into one luxury room.

Dangerfield is a big hit on campus: always throwing the biggest parties, knowing all the right people, but is this the way to pass college? He pays NASA to do his astronomy homework, and pays Kurt Vonnegut to write a literature paper...on Kurt Vonnegut's life. Vonnegut gets a great cameo, but the punch line is that the paper gets an F. "Obviously whoever you paid to write this knows nothing about Vonnegut!"

Obviously the plot is a bit silly, but it's entertaining. If you like Rodney Dangerfield, go see this movie, you'll love when he performs Twist and Shout.

I think the best part of the entire movie is when they're trying to register for classes. His chauffer holds up a sign by the limo with Bruce Springstein's name on it. All the students rush out to mob the car while Dangerfield, his son, his son's girlfriend, and Robert Downey Jr. have the pick of classes.

NB- I never saw the whole thing, so I took the plot from IMDB.

Every year, hordes of students embark on an annual exodus to buy school supplies. There is a problem, however: the school supply lists issued by schools are often a joke, including things like "two boxes of kleenexes" which you will probably never use. Or they may tell you to bring truly excessive quantities of red pens, for twisted purposes that my mind cannot begin to fathom.

For sensible people who want to get a comfortable minimum of school supplies, I'll supply a list based on personal experience, which will be aimed at high school students.

  • One inch (two or three centimeters if you're in a metric country) three ring binder. I can't stress the importance of this enough. You will stick all your papers into the pockets, and keep a good supply of blank paper inside for all your writing needs.
  • 400 sheets of college ruled paper suitable for a three ring binder.
  • About six blue or black pens. You can take your pick of pen types, but ballpoint pens are always good. Teachers used to give me trouble about using a pen rather than a number two pencil, but things get better in high school.
  • Two mechanical pencils. These are essential in any mathematical class, and could serve as a substitute for pens if you aren't planning on making photocopies of your handwriting and prefer pencils. I prefer 0.5mm lead, but your preferences may vary. If you need to draw very fine lines, 0.3mm lead can be helpful. The only thing I can say about choosing a mechanical pencil is that the cone at the front should be made out of metal. I've had too many plastic cones break to buy another one. You may not thank yourself for buying a good pencil, but you will curse yourself if you buy a bad one.
  • Extra lead for mechanical pencils. Just remember that if you are stabbed by someone with a mechanical pencil, you won't get lead poisoning; it's really graphite.
  • A graphing calculator. These are actually required for some classes in my high school, and they can be very useful. I have an older TI-82 and some programs that I wrote for it, to do such useful tasks as factoring integers and solving quadratic equations. Most people in my school have TI-83s, which are also good, and which tend to have programs more readily available from other people. The exact model of calculator doesn't matter as much as learning how to use it. Read the manual, learn what your calculator can do for you, and learn to push it for all it can do.

That concludes my list of school supplies; in four more days I'll see if it was a good one. It worked for me last year. As for the rest of school: good luck.

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