Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Well, Jamie and Ryan's floors are still being worked on, which means my house is still full of dogs. Last night, for some inexplicable reason, at around 3:30 a.m., their black lab, Lucy, decided to not only leap onto my bed, but she leapt pretty much right onto my head. Being sound asleep, this kind of startled the hell out of me, and I ended up pretty much tossing the dog halfway across the room before I realized what was going on (Lucy bounced right back to her feet, tail wagging- no harm, no foul). It really has been pretty enjoyable, for the most part, having the dogs visit, but we're still working on establishing some boundaries.

What else? Apparently my brother, Ryan, aka Roundball, has secured a new job for himself. He's recently been working on a contract basis for a prior employer, Enspire, but in a few weeks he will apparently be returning to the mothership, The University of Texas, to do some kind of management for projects related to the library system (I'm still fuzzy on the details). Anyway, we're all proud of him for landing a new job, especially in this somewhat difficult economic climate. It's nice to know that your siblings can afford some of the extravagant luxuries in life- like food, shelter, and the occasional scrap of clothing.

I didn't watch the debate last night, but I heard that Obama did okay for himself. Given that the general consensus held that McCain needed a big win last night (his poll numbers keep slipping as the economy gets worse and Americans continue to blame the Republicans), I guess Obama did well for himself just by avoiding any major gaffes and by giving some clear, straightforward steps on how he thought he could improve the economy (e.g., investments in infrastructure and alternative energy systems, tax cuts for middle Americans and the elimination of capital gains taxes for small businesses, incentives for American companies that avoid outsourcing, and trade policies which protect American workers and help increase the export of American goods).

Anyway, I'm sort of glad I didn't watch the debate. I don't really feel like I missed much.

Ryan and Jamie and I also watched a couple of episodes of Scare Tactics on the Sci Fi Channel. For those who haven't seen it, Scare Tactics is a sort of Candid Camera style show, except instead of hiding cameras and playing funny pranks on people in order to make them laugh, on Scare Tactics they play pranks on people in the attempt to basically scare the sh*t out of them. While this is supposed to make the pranks funny for viewers, the people being pranked are often scared silly until it's revealed that the whole situation is just a joke for a TV show. The pranks on the show run the range from being fairly silly (being attacked by a midget caveman, a sasquatch, or a guy in a gorilla suit) to being somewhat more realistic (being led to believe that you've been accidentally contaminated with a fatal dose of radiation or being forced, at gunpoint, to take part in a terrorist plot which might kill your own mother).

It occurred to me last night while watching the show that it's not only kind of funny, but it's a fascinating glimpse into the character of average people- their sense of courage, their adherence to ethical principles, and their sense of ingenuity and capacity for independent thought in a time of crisis.

For example, on one of the pranks that we watched last night, a young woman was taking a ride in a cab when the cab struck a passing pedestrian, and the cab driver raced away (the cab driver and the pedestrian both being actors). The cab driver immediately launched into a speech about how they just needed to cover the whole thing up in order to keep themselves out of trouble, but the woman in the cab insisted on going back to the scene and calling the cops. Despite the fact that the cab driver told her that he had a criminal record and had just gotten out of prison (which was why he wouldn't go back to help the hit and run victim), she got so mad at the cab driver that I really thought she was going to attack the guy before the skit was over. She was practically spitting at him because she was yelling so much. Anyway, I was sort of impressed that she was so committed to returning to help a pedestrian that she didn't even know, especially when the accident wasn't her fault and when the cab driver might have potentially been dangerous for her to argue with.

On the other hand, there was a different skit/prank that involved a guy being unwittingly indoctrinated into a cult group that was in the process of carrying out some sort of suicide ritual, drinking the proverbial poisoned kool aid so that they could be "transformed". Despite the fact that other people were writhing around on the floor, simulating seizures and severe stomach cramps after drinking the poison, the guy who was the target of the prank voluntarily downed the kool aid after watching to make sure that all of the other members of the group had already consumed theirs. What the hell? When asked, after the prank was revealed, why he drank the poison kool aid, the guy had nothing to say except, "Well, if all the rest of them drank it, I thought I had to drink it, too." He had known all of these people for about an hour.

All I'm saying is that Scare Tactics is a sort of fascinating show for reasons that sometimes go far beyond the simple laughs that the show sells itself on. After watching the pranks, you want to give some of these people a medal (another woman tried to fend off a man that she thought was a psychotic lunatic in order to protect a small child), while others make you feel embarrassed and ashamed for the people so much that you kind of wonder why these targets let them use their reactions on national TV (the guy who runs away and leaves his girlfriend behind in the car when attacked by aliens). So, anyway, check the show out. Kind of interesting.


The League said...

Sorry about the early morning Lucy Leap. It's something I'm all too familiar with, and the "bounced right back up, tail wagging" is because whenever she does it to me, she gets pretty much the same result and now believes it to be SOP.

She is an awful animal.

I think what you describe is why I'm so hooked on "Scare Tactics". It really is an incredible look at how people react in the situations that suddenly, inexplicably get out of control, from the believable to the most bizarre sci-fi situations imaginable.

I'm still amazed nobody has been killed while taping the show, either from fear-induced heart attack or from someone deciding their only escape is to fight back, and fight back hard.

Meredith said...

Is it on every night, or just on Tuesday nights on Sci Fi? I need to watch it...sounds interesting.

J.S. said...

I don't think Lucy is an awful animal. She was probably trying to defend the homestead- attacking and killing whatever was making those terrible snoring sounds.

J.S. said...

I think they show the new epsiodes on Tuesdays, maybe, and then they show reruns sort of whenever they feel like it. Even the reruns should be pretty good if you haven't seen them, though (of course some are better then others).