Idiotic Previews

Sometimes, for discernible reasons, the corporate marketing hacks who try to control our lifestyles, do something really really annoying. And then again, sometimes they do it for no discernible reason.

Case in point. I just rented the VHS tape of the movie “Walkabout” by Nicholas Roeg. I popped it into the machine, pressed the “play” button, and watched. What I saw was a preview for the movie… “Walkabout”, by Nicholas Roeg.

I thought, whoa! That’s cool. A preview of the movie I just rented.

Now, wait a minute. Do people go to a video store, pick a movie at random, take it home, watch the preview, and then decide if they are going to watch the movie?

Not very likely, you’ll agree. No, like most people, I picked a movie I wanted to watch and then took it home to watch. So why is there a preview for the same movie on the tape?

Now, previews are designed to peak your interest. They show you the most interesting or provocative scenes from the movie, in the hope that you will want to see the whole thing… a few weeks later at a movie theatre.

But when you are about to watch the movie, do you want the preview to show you what is going to happen to the people in the film? Do you want to know that the car you see them driving in at the beginning, is going to end up burning in the dessert? Do you want to know that the girl is going to go skinny-dipping? Do you want to know that she and her little brother will run into somebody out in the dessert?

Yes, you do, when the movie gets to it.

It’s like the loudmouth leaving the movie theatre as you are going in, muttering, “can you believe it? The butler really did do it!”

The London Defibrillation Choir

The New York Times, which never lies, has an article today about a movement to train everyone on how to use defibrillators. Apparently about 90% of the people who have cardiac arrest– which is not the same as a heart attack or a heart with no companion– die in the first 10 minutes. But if you have a defibrillator handy (in your purse or your camera bag or something, I assume), about 53% of the victims survive. That is amazing. Now the heart can have a companion.

They were even able to demonstrate that the average grade six student, who doesn’t know the state capital of Alaska where the oil is, can nevertheless be trained to operate a defibrillator in just a few hours. They tell them it’s just like a Sony Playstation.

Still, I find it somewhat alarming. New York State has passed a law that released from liability anyone who uses a defibrillator to try to save someone. You see, if you use a defibrillator on someone who is not having a heart attack, you can actually kill them. So I think the first thing we need to do, after making defibrillators available to everyone in order to save lots of lives, is to restrict their availability in order to save lots of lives.

Another thing I find alarming about defibrillators is that you have supposed to shave the person’s chest before applying the two little paddles and shouting “all clear”, so everyone knows you watch ER. I mean, some guy is dying (most likely in a Casino where there is a disproportionate number of cardiac arrests as well as tacky double-knit pantsuits), and you rush over to help and everyone’s standing around watching and you have to say, “anyone got a razor– while he’s down, I might as well shave his chest.” What if it was Burt Reynolds or someone? “Oh my god, this is going to take hours. Anyone got a Philishave?” What if it was Dolly Parton? “Bigger paddles, quick! We need— yes, those satellite dishes will do quite nicely….”

Another thing is — which is why Cohen’s explicit poetry is actually good for our society– what if it is a woman undergoing cardiac arrest and you’re kind of a shy young man and all these people are watching…. Can New York State also make an exception for sexual harassment lawsuits? But then, if they did, you’d have all these guys walking around the beach with defibrillators on their shoulders instead of boom boxes, and they’d be targeting good looking girls who fall asleep while tanning. “All clear. Leon! I said ALL CLEAR! Now. I mean it. All right, see if I care. ZZZZZZAAAAAPPPPP. Oh my God! Leon’s down! Someone get a razor, quick!”

I’m only bringing this up because if Leonard attends Hydra 2002… well, he is getting on in years, and I hope they have a defibrillator handy just in case. You know how women react around him. If Fiona or Judith or Ania actually met Leonard, you’d have to be ready to use those paddles, I think, though I would be very nervous about it myself. And, instead of shouting out “all clear”, I think, apropos of the occasion, I would shout “did you ever go clear?” ZZAAAAPPPP. “Bill, Bill, stop! She’s only taking a nap!” “Not any more. We better do it again. It’s like the reset button on a computer, isn’t it?”

And before I go to bed, I want to note that they have an actual video of a 77 year old man having cardiac arrest in a Las Vegas Casino. He falls over. The security guards rush to his aid. They look like they are in grade 6. They rip off his shirt and shave his chest. They apply the goo, the little sensor pads, and then — “Go Clear!”– the paddles. ZAAAAPPPP. He’s up. An old man who had fainted was revived. And everyone agreed twould be a miracle indeed…. except that the video also shows all the other people in the Casino basically ignoring him. I’m not kidding. They took one look at the guy and went back to their slots and blackjacks.

I think hell is… you’re in a Casino. Wayne Newton is singing “Dunkeshein”. Fat ladies in pastel-plaid double-knit pantsuits are working the slot machines. The d├ęcor resembles Andy Warhol repackaged by Walmart. You have a heart attack. Your soul starts to rise from your body and you look down and notice that not a single person gives a damn. What depresses you even more is that these are not the kind of people you wish would give a damn about you, but Ania and Fiona and Judith and Corisa and Tim and both Mikes and Mark and Jarkko and Nancy and Barbara …. are all in Hydra jamming to an aud and eating roast sheep. They don’t give a damn, and the guards stand helpless by: no one remembered a shaver. They try the paddles on your butt instead. With every zap you return to your body and the whole experience starts over again.

Did you ever go clear? No. ZZZZZAAAAAPPPPP Ow! Now I am.


George Bush Jr. belongs that peculiar school of American politician who doesn’t understand the rest of the world, isn’t curious about it, and doesn’t give a damn about the possibility that they might like to do things a bit differently out “there”.

Why does Europe even care? All the better if the evil American imperialists decide to stay out of things and mind their own business, right? The trouble is, that’s just not possible, nor likely. Bush’s attitude is that the rest of the world is not worth knowing, but it is certainly worth exploiting. American corporations throw a lot of weight around even when the U.S. government and military does not. And when the interests of Coca Cola are at stake, you can bet Bush Jr. will get interested in hurry. But he won’t get interested enough to try to learn anything. He’ll only get interested enough to figure out just how much weight American can throw around out there in order to get their way. Trade impediments? Let’s cut off their credit at the World Bank. Regulations to protect indigenous cultural expressions? Demand that they be removed so American trinkets can be sold at cut-rate prices! Laws preventing tobacco advertising aimed at children? Hell, that discriminates against R. J. Reynolds! Threaten to jack up their interest rates!

Bush will oppose every effort to make America play by the same rules as everyone else. Clinton could not persuade Congress to sign international agreements on land mines and chemical weapons and exploitation of the world’s oceans. Clinton couldn’t persuade the Republicans to show the slightest concern over global warming.

The only mitigating circumstance in sight is that the Republicans must be aware of the danger of losing both houses of Congress in the next election two years from now. Bush can’t afford to antagonize everyone no matter what Tom Delay thinks.

And another thought… had Gore won, you can bet the Republicans would already have picked out their Special Prosecutors and Investigative Committee chairs. It doesn’t matter whether there is anything to investigate or not: something could always be found.