Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tube Action

Last night the wife, suffering from severe allergic reactions to the kilotons of tree pollen smog that envelops the upper part of my state this month, went to bed very early. This left me, at 8 pm, with nothing to do. Rather, a desire to do nothing.

Didn’t want to read; already put away nearly sixty pages in my PJF paperback, and didn’t feel like cracking the A-bomb tome. What to do, what to do?

Then it dawned on me: the DVR player!

Once or twice a month I scroll through the channel guide at length, recording a relatively rare this and that. Since January, I’ve accumulated about ten or twelve movies and documentaries that seem to hold some interest for me. What better time than now, I thought, with three uninterrupted hours, to watch a couple and free up some space on the old DVR?

First thing I watched was The Red Badge of Courage, a black-and-white 1951 cinematic treatment of the Stephen Crane classic. Directed by the legendary John Huston. Originally, from what I’ve read, it clocked in at two hours and contained some of Huston’s greatest pyrotechnical treatments of war. He even hinted that it may have been his greatest accomplishment. However, skirmishing between the famed director and studio mogul Samuel Goldwyn (I think it was him), along with some negative prescreening audience reactions, led to the studio putting a hatchet to the film, editing it down to 75 minutes, and inserting narration taken straight from the Crane novel.

All in all, I still liked it. I have a inkling that Huston’s original version would have become as classic as the source material. But I still liked the studio version. The warfare seemed authentic, the acting was passable, the writing decent enough. Two scenes stand out: the hair-raising death of the “Tall Soldier,” Jim Conklin, thirty-five minutes in, and some heartful banter between a victorious Union soldier and a captured Reb. I’d grade the flick a solid B-plus, possibly an A-minus.

Then I watched a Mythbusters episode. About ten years ago, when it first came out, the wife and I (me particularly) were especially enamored with the show. But, though it never jumped the shark before, we just kinda started watching other things.

Anyway, this episode concerned whether Jimmy Hoffa’s body might be at the ten-yard line of Giants Stadium. Since they couldn’t dig up the field, they did the next best thing: they buried a pig carcass beneath the concrete sidewalk by their warehouse. Waited a certain amount of time, then used one of those ground-MRI thingies to search for signs of the dead pig. Interesting but inconclusive (and slightly gross-out) stuff.

There was also a test about Jamie allowing himself to be bit by a daddy longlegs (which didn’t look like the daddy longlegs in my childhood basement at all) to test its poison potency. Needless to say, I deleted the episode before it got to this point.

My final viewing of the night was some special called “Myths and Monsters of Modern America.” I think. Don’t remember the title and haven’t seen it before or since I DVR’d it. Anyway – jackpot! Real creepy stuff.

The first thirty minutes focused on this dude who allegedly shot a sasquatch, then buried it (good move, Fish Kid!). When he was convinced by bigfoot investigators to go back and prove it, the ground had frozen and snow covered. What I found creepy, though, was the backstory of one of the main investigators.

Seems that when this guy was a teenager, mid-eighties, he and a buddy would go hiking deep into the dark woods. They’d make camp and head back home the next day. Well, this time, sitting around the campfire, pitch blackness all about them, they hear a crashing thud. Elk? Moose? It’s quiet, and they’re a bit unnerved. Then a large rock is lobbed into their small camp and lands a few feet away. Now they’re more than a bit unnerved. Is their a psycho hiker out there? Suddenly a second large rock is heaved at them. Terrified, they high-tail it out of there, heading downhill on a small path. This guy remembers he has a gun in his backpack. Stops to take it out and looks over his shoulder –

And sees a dark, hulking humanoid form silhouetted against the nighttime sky, a few yards behind him.

The man says he never knew fear – heart-stopping, time-stopping fear – until that moment.

Needless to say, the re-enactment was dead-on. None of the silly CGI stuff. This was spooky!

Unfortunately for me, it was time to go to bed.

Fortunately for me, I live in a safe, locked house, miles away from any suspected Sasquatch habitats.

Unfortunately for me, I had a crazy bad nightmare a few hours later.

More on that, maybe, tomorrow …

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