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Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

by The Cranky Media Guy

Gee, there's just so much stuff to be afraid of in the modern world, isn't there? I mean, if it isn't International Terrorism, it's Y2K. If it isn't Y2K, it's gingivitis. By golly, the list just goes on and on.

I for one, had NO idea I should be worried about explosions. I mean, I can't really remember the last time I saw an explosion--not counting the Fourth of July, that is. Apparently, though, they're happening all around me every day and I just haven't been alert to the danger which is The Explosion.

Once again, I have the Fox Network to thank for my new-found consciousness of explosions. (I really ought to send them some money in thanks for all they've done to make me aware of the constant danger in the world around me. Do they take donations?) I was watching a show earlier tonight on Fox, the title of which was When Good Times Go Bad III. I don't remember the first two shows in this series; maybe they aired prior to my awakening to Constant Global Terror.

Actor Peter Coyote was the narrator of this piece of infotainment. He kicked off the show by saying something like (I'm paraphrasing here), "Explosions are all around us constantly. We can't stop them, we can't avoid them. Everyday, somewhere in the world, someone's genitals explode while they're sleeping." Okay, I made the part about the genitals up, but, honestly, the rest is pretty accurate. Now, don't get me wrong. I like to watch stuff blowing up as much as--probably more than, actually--the next guy, but I'm not about to run out and buy a hardhat because of the increased incidence of kabooms around me. Am I wrong here? Are there explosions going off all over the place and I'm just too used to them to notice anymore? That's a scarier thought to me than the idea that the plastique is hitting the fan all over the place. I just hate missing out on a trend.

Remember the good ol' Cold War Days when all we had to worry about was the Commies and their Plan for Global Domination? At least back then the Thing We Feared had a face (it was big, round, fat and belonged to Nikita Kruschev). Nowadays, the Boogie Man can come in any form, from right-wing loonies with a racial chip on their shoulder to high school kids who sit at the Geek Table in the cafeteria. Sometimes, the Boogie Man isn't even a "man", strictly speaking, but we give him a human name anyway. Remember Floyd? Hurricane Floyd? "He" was last week's Boogie Man Du Jour.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not dismissing the destruction Floyd caused in the Carolinas. Ain't nothing worse than coming home to find that there's no home to come home to. What I find interesting is that Floyd seems to have been the antidote to the previous Boogie Man.

As of the end of August (last month, for those who have lost track), much of this country was suffering from a drought. The fine, nicely-coiffed people on my local TV news shows told me that the drought was so severe that it would take the Metro Region (I think that's a suburb of Cyberspace, somewhere in the Tri-State Area) three years to have normal water levels again. I know time flies when you're having fun and all that, but I must have missed a couple of birthdays when I wasn't looking 'cause, all of a sudden, the rivers are running free again and the reservoirs seem pretty full. Maybe, in today's fast-paced, Internet-connected world, "three years" means what "three weeks" used to mean back when Andy and Barney were patrolling Mayberry.

Hey, speaking of Boogie Men Du Jour, anybody heard from Slobodan Milosevic lately? I miss those weekly phone calls I used to get from him, just to say "I love you, Bob." Stop looking at me that way--it was strictly platonic. Anyway, wasn't Slobie last spring's B.M.D.J.? Now that the heat's off, I fully expect him to show up as a panelist on Politically Incorrect. He must have a book coming out that he needs to plug, right? I picture a cover shot of him shrugging comically, under the title "So I Lost! The Slobodan Milosevic Story as told by himself (with Dick Schaap)". Come on, this has "Judith Regan" (the publisher of Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh's books) written all over it! The way I see it, he's just a Berlitz course away from a corner box on The New Hollywood Squares. Hey, it worked for Charo!

There must be something addictive about B.M.D.J.'s. Instead of asking ourselves if each new one is really as scary as advertised, we just keep taking the bait. We know Robert Englund must be using a walker by now, but we keep going to the Freddy Kruger movies anyway.

I've decided to take a stand on these irrational scares. A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out how handing out ID cards will do absolutely nothing to stop potential violence in schools. I've got a kid in eighth grade at the moment and I'm anxiously waiting for the local school board despots to announce a plan to hand out ID's or set up metal detectors at the school entrance (another stupid idea which will accomplish nothing positive but which will create a prison atmosphere in schools).

I've been shopping on eBay the past few days for a security wand. You know, one of those things they wave over you at concerts to see if you're carrying any guns or weapons. Basically, they're handheld metal detectors. I almost snagged one the other day, but I got outbid on it. I will get my hands on one soon, even if I have to go to Radio Shack and pay retail. Anyway, I'm going to go to the school board meeting and when it's time for questions from the audience, I'm going to stand up, introduce myself as a concerned parent and ask the members of the board if they'd mind if I used my little security device to see if they are carrying any weapons. I'll point out that "you just can't be too careful these days" and say that it's "for the safety of the children present." I mean, after all, these people walk in and out of the local schools all the time. What do we really know about them?

If the board members refuse to allow me to check them out, I'll say, "You're objecting to me doing to you one time what you expect the students to submit to five days a week, for the entire school year? Shouldn't you be setting an example for the students?" Gee, do you think that'll stir things up? With any luck, maybe I can be the next Boogie Man du jour. At least on a local level, anyway.

Hey, if you're reading this and you agree with me about the stupidity of school "security" measures (which are really just B.M.D.J.'s in disguise), why don't you follow my lead and get your hands on one of those wand thingies? It'll cost you a couple of bucks, but just think of the fun you'll have proving that the local authority figures believe that their own rules shouldn't apply to them. After all, why should I have all the fun?




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