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Some people go their whole lives searching for their own personal holy grail...but thanks to reader Kenny Smith, we may die in peace now, since today he sent us the link to what we've been looking for lo, these long two months...TEH SUX0RZ OF ALL SUX0RZ IN SCHOOL PROMOTIONAL ADS. (For all the other, lesser ads, please check out our school promotional ad review archives.) For the moment, Appalachian State, we kowtow to you. You truly are HOT HOT HOT !

A WARNING: Please, before reading anything written below, watch this. If you're in an office, shut the door; if you're in a cubicle, invite a friend. If you're at home, call over a loved one or pet to spread the love, and please make sure you are not eating, drinking, performing any delicate tasks requiring manual dexterity, or masturbating while watching, since this video is the opposite of sex, and may induce erectile dysfunction for life.

(Waiting, sips coffee, waits for reader's vital signs to return to normal after exposure to the worst school promotional ad ever created. Some of you may not have made it--condolences from our staff, but like Too Short says, only the strong survive. We begin to pick apart this monstrosity now, though words ultimately fail to capture the grandeur of the "HOT HOT HOT" ad. We'll try anyway.)

Only the strong survive the ASU ad. Watch with caution.

School: Appalachian State University

Ad title: "HOT HOT HOT!"

EDSBS title: "The Cthulu of School Promo Ads." Why vote for the lesser of two evils?

Setup: "One To Grow On"-esque video effects fade into a verdant mountainside background. Across the screen flash various images of university life in the picturesque campus of Appalachian State University, taken mostly from the pages of the manual all campus information directors must use when putting these things together.

Playing in the background is a song obviously conceived, written, performed and recorded by Appalachian State students. The original intended effect was, we imagine, supposed to be an energetic, homespun feel simultaneously highlighting the "high" side of ASU's countryfied image while showing off some of the less well-known "HOT" angles of life in the Harvard of Western Carolina. (ASU, for the uninitiated, has a reputation as a school where many students display keen interest in recreational agronomy. By this, we mean they like to smoke well-cultivated, brain-crashing marijuana in their free time.) At least that's what they started from before this ad burst from its fetid, ill-begotten womb and clawed its deformed, hairy, many-legged self into existence.

From what we've heard, many of ASU's students are indeed "high upon a mountain."

Subtext: ASU is HOT HOT HOT. If you don't believe it now, you definitely won't after watching the video. But they'll try with all the repetition of a Maoist indoctrination video to force you to believe, comrade.

HOT evidently means a lot of things at ASU. First, it means rocking out to music you make yourself, which rocks if you're addicted to the TBN Songbook of Peppy, Unfunky White Television Church music and you've got a choir and band full of willing victims participants willing to make it happen. Part of us kept waiting for a wobbly, obviously drunk Jan Crouch to pop her head in from the side of the screen begging for us to send in a hundred dollar prayer pledge while crying her makeup off her face.

Suprisingly, does not make an appearance in the ad.

The song---oh God, our ass is starting to hurt just thinking about it--oh, the song. The song is a pounding, rolling shitstorm of horrors, from the opening horn flair to the halfassed guitar solo played by the guy in your dorm who was forever working on the opening riff of Metallica's "Seek and Destroy." The guitar solo in particular roils our guts, since it sounds like something straight off the soundtrack of Saved By the Bell; you may as well have Screech in the commercial jamming to the song on an unplugged guitar, faking the solo badly while wearing a pair of ray-bans and a white sport coat.

We know Appalachian State likely felt they had some rebranding to do here. The whole push of the commercial is to equate HOT with Appalachian. This would present a daunting task for seasoned team of coked-up NY marketeers; for a bunch of ASU students and administrators, it's equivalent to attempting to climb K2 wearing a pair of ballet slippers and a speedo. In fact, we can think of ten words off the top of our head that are hotter than the word "Appalachian" right now:

1. heatrash
2. annuity
3. crankle
4. scrofulous
5. plaque
6. pinkeye
7. concussion
8. impetigo
9. Haiti
10. prolapsed

After watching the ad, we immediately came up with thirty new ones lickety-split. We'll eschew the industry mumbo-jumbo and just say: in marketing terms, that ain't good.

Production values: Styrofoam factory safety video visual standards. The video editor appears to have fallen in moopy-schmoopy love with the spin and flip effects; at one dizzying point in the video during the sax solo, the picture of the toked-out pottery teacher playing the saxophone ('cause they made it themselves, get it? The guy playing the sax is the guy in the picture! HOT HOT HOT!) spins helplessly in the middle of the frame like a toilet cucumber begging for a mercy flush.

Sax solos: they didn't die in 1992.

The graphics...well, there's all the sparkle and pizazz you expect from a professional production. In Chad. In 1995. The spinning, flipping images are trumped on every chorus by the flaming letters HOT HOT HOT! The words appear at least four times in the video, which if you strapped us into a chair, pried our eyelids open, and played Beethoven non-stop for hours on end still wouldn't make us associate those words with anything remotely Appalachian State-ish.

Van de Graaf generators: HOT HOT HOT!

Hits: At two minutes and seventeen seconds, certainly isn't short on quantity.

Misses: At two minutes and seventeen seconds, certainly isn't short. At all. It's the Tale of the Genji of university promotional ads: first an epic battle, then a tale of loss and maturation, and finally an incomprehensible, unending mess leaving you staring goggle-eyed and gatemouthed when the end finally arrives. We've mentioned the song, but not the fact that the lyrics scroll across the screen the whole time like a karaoke video. In fact, if you've never put an awkward kibosh on a lively karaoke night, nothing would do it like a quick run-through the ASU anthem "HOT HOT HOT." It'll kill the buzz faster than pepper-spraying your date will. That the lyrics are written on the screen--so you'll read them all, every immortal line-- lets you know that contrary to what your heart and mind want to believe is true, this was no joke.

There's just so much...we'll just hit the stunners.

If you're going to flash the words HOT HOT HOT on the screen, show something hot. ASU, in case you haven't heard, is rife with hippie ladies who'd have been happy to represent the school while wearing a bandana bra and a flowy, translucent dress. The guys would probably willing to do without clothes entirely for the female demographic. Instead, we get Chumley McDweebashire turning in his late copy of Siddhartha in his parka, which unless that's a hollowed out book stuffed with reefer, is anything but hot.

To be fair, they also flash HOT HOT HOT under the women's lacrosse team, which works a lot better than the book return innuendo does. The progress is shattered by this haunting image which appears towards the end of the video:

Monstrous baby-eating mascot : not hot.

We'd like to state that the ASU mountaineer looks less like a congenial mascot and more like the fuzzy incarnation of a baby-eating monster from Scandinavian folklore.

...and ye through the blustry bogs blew timrous winds wending their way through thickn'd thatches...the heralding hoary breath of the towering Flegbrak, who did steal the savory child from the comforting cradle ere they reached a thousand days from the womb, banditing them away in his blooming grey beard...

The outfit just makes the Mountaineer scarier, for some reason: perhaps his frightening visage is made worse by the thought of trying to match anything with yellow and brown tartan.

Fear must be an integral part of the ASU experience, judging from the Double Dare torture rig shown below, where freshmen pelt fellow students to death by hurling full 16-oz. cans of beer at each other. for hours on end. We think this woman lived, while the unfortunate preppie in the adjacent slot appears to be on his last legs.

Not everyone can handle the pressure, fear and violence of the cauldron that is ASU, though. Inevitably, those unfit for the environment fail, dropping out, flunking out, or worse. Sometimes, they erupt in violence lashing out at fellow students in elaborately plotted revenge born of their sick, psychotic dreams. Sometimes, they end up in university promotional videos, where they build their hopes by incinerating an screaming class of freshmen.

Welcome to Chemistry 101. I'm your TA, and your final exam is...survival!!! MUHAHAHA!!!

Summary grade: None. A disaster and a blessing. A kiss and a slap. A beautiful woman and the herpes she gives you. Rayeeyaiiinn....on your wedding day....ohh the irony of this ad. Exactly what we were looking for...and yet so much more. This ad actually shouldn't even be evaluated on the same criteria at the other ads, since it events entirely new, heretofore unseen ways to debase its subject. We'd do an interpretive dance, but that wouldn't cover it. We'd make a noise, but our vocal cords fail us. Words fail--not even "deflaculent," or even "walscarfurous" covers how completely fucked-up this ad is. Therefore, we award no grade.