Just Above Sunset
August 15, 2004 - "The owls are not what they seem."

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World’s Laziest Journalist


By Bob Patterson


We were lying on the bed staring at the ceiling wondering what would be a good column topic to continue the tradition of upsetting (some) American voters and starting family fights (if your kid is on the Penn State boxing team, it might boil down to “You and What Army?”).  After a few days of that, we decided it was time for a break and pulled out some of our old VCR tapes.


Spoiler warning: We will reveal some details of the TV series Twin Peaks that folks who haven’t seen the last episode may not want to know, so proceed at your own peril.


In the last episode, FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), who has been searching for the elusive culprit “Bob” (Frank Silva), after all kinds of weird and ambiguous “clues” (has any one ever done a dissertation for a degree in literature by studying a TV series?), in the final scene, agent Cooper looks into the mirror with “Bob” as his reflection looking back at him.


[Speaking of symbolism, what is it with that hand in the middle of the opening credits for the (about to celebrate their 50th birthday) Tonight Show?  Is that some kind of “Paul is Dead” deal?]


Twin Peaks was marvelous entertainment and a repeat viewing almost 13 years later can hold your attention.  Some of the elements in the various episodes can spawn lengthy convoluted “deep” discussions.  Is the black lodge actually the White House?  That sort of thing.


The series was popular with both advocates of the “horror” and “whodunnit” genres.   Mystery fans have seen plenty of previous efforts where the searcher turned out to be his (her) own culprit, but this series managed to catch some of the best fans off guard. 


Being taken by surprised by a trusted person can be a bit disconcerting.  If that darn old Ahmed Chalabi isn’t sworn in as Prime Minister next year, it’s going to cost me a couple (how many does it take to tango?) of bucks. 


The only kind of person who can betray you is one you trust.  The old “trust no one” philosophy works rather well (especially in Hollywood.) 


For instance who was the famous actor “Fumio Yamaguchi” in Twin Peaks?  USA Today reportedly printed the publicity material about the famous actor who turned out to be Piper Laurie who also played Catherine Martell (we told ya there’d be spoilers) in the same series.


Remember the old days when newspaper reporters would dig for the story?  The TV series The Big Story chronicled outstanding examples of journalism.  This long-running documentary-drama series was based on the actual case histories of reporters who solved crimes, uncovered corruption, or otherwise performed significant public service through their diligent reporting.”  [The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, page 66.]  These days it seems that business considerations such as promoting company agenda and cutting costs, have rendered such altruistic endeavors to the category of irrelevant.  In 2004, it’s cheaper to trust a press release.


Luckily there are watchdogs here and here who make sure that reporting is truthful.  Heck, even the website for urban legends is getting into a cusp area of verifying some aspects of the news that strain credulity.  Maybe we should send a carbon copy to the guy who runs the online site that specializes in material of/about/for/regarding hoaxes.  Which, in turn, brings up the question is a hoax the same as or different from an urban legend? 


What if some guy were to run on his anti-terrorism record and win, even though his team didn’t make any arrests of:  anyone on the ground who may have helped the hijackers, anyone connected to the anthrax incidents, anyone of consequence in Afghanistan, anyone connected to the charred bodies on the bridge incident, anyone in Iran who assisted passage for the would-be hijackers, a guy called a spy and charged with counterfeiting, and hasn’t arrested Rev. Sadr who is wanted on a murder charge.  His campaign slogan could be “nobody bats a thousand.”


Who is the only member of the Saudi Royal family who faces a reelection dilemma?


Is the “Snoopy Syndrome” a technical term that psychologists use to describe someone who thinks he is a qualified fighter pilot?  When and where did Snoopy get training for flying the Sopwith Camel style aircraft?  Why is it that the press never challenged Snoopy about his “alleged” qualifications to fly combat missions and do battle with the dreaded Red Barron?  (In later years, did Snoopy update his claim to include the ability to fly an F102?)


Was Snoopy’s claims to possess a diploma from the Sopwith F1 Camel school similar to the Emperor’s new clothes?  Is there a difference between deception and being delusional?  Bill O’Reilly has said “it isn’t a lie if you believe it.”  Does that mean that delusional people are truthful? 


The editor in the control booth is signaling to remind us that we are supposed to include something that the Aussie posse, the China clan, the German gang, and the Jersey junta didn’t previously know, so here is where we’ll drop in the information that we hear that Johnny Depp has insisted that famed musician Keith Richards get an acting role in the new Pirates of the Caribbean II movie.  Richards will portray the father of Depp’s charater, Captain Jack Sparrow.


Great Caeser’s Ghost!  Mentioning the chief in the control booth reminds us of our suspicion that some movie directors now encourage flubs, goofs, and bad takes so that they will have material to use in the “outtakes” section of the DVD edition.


Some folks say you can’t cheat if it isn’t close.  The first rule of confidence men is get the “mark’s” trust.  Many years ago, this columnist attended an FBI seminar for bank clerks on the subject of short change artists.  The trickster would ask for the quickest and best clerk in a bank to work his trade.  He would walk in with a $100 bill and leave with $300 in his pocket.  Can you say that overpaying by $200 when a guy asks for change for his $100 bill is close?  See by convincing you that:  You can’t cheat if it isn’t close, they have you assuming that they can’t fool you and right there you are more vulnerable. 


It’s like president Bush once said:  “Fool me once; shame on you.  Fool me . . . won’t get fooled again!”  Usually that axiom reads “Fool me once; shame on you.   Fool me twice; shame on me” but, by changing the words so that they don’t make sense, he can get you to jump to the conclusion that he just delivered a new and clever variation.  Did anyone say to him that the variation he delivered didn’t make sense?  It wasn’t even close to making sense, but he got away with it.


Kerry is making Lawrence Kansas more famous than William Quantrill did.  One website operating in that college city is highly regarded.


Hugh Hewitt, who wrote If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat:  Crushing The Democrats In Every Election And Why Your Life Depends On It ($19.99 Nelson Books), encourages bloggers to plug his book so that they can hear their blog get plugged on his radio talk show.  Do you think he will plug Just Above Sunset after reading this bit of promobabble? 


Will he come even close?


Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux has been quoted (Columbia Dictionary of Quotations p. 340) as saying:  “However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him.”


The sound of machine-gun fire indicates that the disk jockey is going to play the Royal Guardsmen’s rendition of “Snoopy and the Red Barron,” (sing along if you like) so we’ll fly out of here for this week.  Come back again next week when the “ace” columnist will shoot down rumors, misconceptions, and assorted legends.  Until then, have a foolproof week.


Copyright © 2004 – Robert Patterson


We asked veteran journalist Bob Patterson for a bio and he sent this along: 


Bob was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Graduated from the University of Scranton in . . . make that "way back when."


He has worked as a reporter and photographer for daily newspapers in California, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.  During the "way back when" phase of his life.


Did photo stringing for the AP’s Los Angeles bureau in the seventies.


Has done some freelance work.


Held other jobs to pay the rent and provide meals money.


Has written book and movie reviews, and columns for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine for the last four years.


Recently the DOA management reportedly traded him to the Just Above Sunset online magazine team for an undisclosed sum and two future draft choices.


He is known to be in the LA area and is considered dangerous.  If you see him, call for backup before attempting to get his autograph or some such fanboy nonsense. 


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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