Monday, April 14, 2003

History shows again and again how Nature points up the folly of Men...

Picked a new book off of the shelves of my local library - THE BUZZING, by Jim Knipfel (Vintage Books) - had never heard of the man before, although the jacket copy pegs him as a columnist for a NYC paper, and the cover features a blurb by Thomas Pynchon.

The Pynchon blurb was not a draw (since I spent a good week during my college days repeatedly throwing my copy of GRAVITY'S RAINBOW across the room in fits of frustration), but even so, I cracked it open, and was suitibly rewarded with a decent yarn about a NY newspaperman, not quite burnt out, but getting pretty near, covering "kook" stories, who stumbles into something even too wierd for him. I won't spoil it for anyone here, but suffice it to say that the saying, "Life is not a movie" is missing an important qualifier -- "Life is not an American movie".

Knipfel has a pretty extensive knowledge of pop culture - if you're a fan, you get shivers of delight finding references to "Kolchak: The Night Stalker", Japanese 'B' films like THE GREEN SLIME, and lots of others. Being a journalist himself, he also manages to immerse one thoroughly in the workings of the trade. Beyond all of that, the serious point of the book (and yes, there is one, sorta) is about the paranoia that abounds in American culture.

This Knipfel is quite a character - check out his website about his other writings and to find out about his previous non-fiction books.
Besides, anyone who knows the theme from THE GREEN SLIME is OK by me.
Monkeys With A Concept

Everybody under 25 is a dumbass.

At least that's the impression I'm getting watching SCARE TACTICS, the Sci-Fi Channel's take on 'hidden video' programming with Shannon Doherty. The basic set-up is pretty much the same as Candid Camera, Spy TV and the endless follow-ups/rip-offs -- the gimmick this time around is that most of the situations are inspired by science-fiction & horror movies.

This has the probability of being somewhat greasy fun... the first segment kicked off with an "alien abduction" prank, which then decended into cheesiness with the appearance of the rubber-suit 'alien' pulling the door off of the car and dragging out the driver. Subsequent segments go through a catalog of urban legend bane - Bigfoot, homicidal maniacs in the woods, murderous clones in warehouses - and some take their cues from films such as "Flatliners", "I Know What You Did Last Summer", and more.

While it is fun watching clueless youth work themselves into frightful fits, the overall impression one is left with is that the Youth of America are bone-stick stupid, gullible naifs who'll fall for anything. While this does explain the success of shows such as Elimidate, Survivor and others in the "reality/hidden-camera" genre, and our current War In Iraq, it doesn't make one sleep well at night to realize that at some point these same gullible naifs will be running the country some day.

As for Shannon Doherty, who left her previous show CHARMED because it was "stupid" -- someone must have some juicy video footage of her doing something heinous to make a such a lateral career move.. That, or she must be related to one of the creators.