"Oddness" Digest

Started September 9th, 1994


This is where I write about things that provoke "odd" feelings in my mind. You know, those times when you stop, look around, and think "now THIS is really weird!" Those times when you're watching something and you get a creepy kind of feeling like you've just seen something extraordinary- but you just can't quite figure out what the hell is going on that makes it so extraordinary? That disquieting sensation you experience when you look at a mess of colors and it suddenly resolves into a flower, or a Dobbs head, or a wing nut? Or when a complete stranger walks up, hands you a spatula, and walks away without a word? Or when a coconut falls right on Gilligan's head for no apparent reason? You know. Those funny things that go "bump" in the mind. This list is of things I have done in successful pursuit of this "oddness".

And here you are:

Try this...

Rent (no, I am NOT kidding) the movie Bambi. All by yourself. Go down to the damned video store and rent it. Okay, so the forkboys laugh and the freckly cashier girl gives you a sick look. They all just suck anyway. Get the movie and drive back to your house. Or your dorm. It doesn't matter. As long as it's quiet and you won't be disturbed. Connect a cable to the video input of your VCR, so that when you're not playing a tape, the TV is black and the audio is silent. No white noise or dancing snow! That's an important element! Now put the tape into the VCR, turn on the TV, wire the audio through your stereo, and (this step is crucial) turn it up very very loud. Turn off ALL the lights. Cover up the crack under your door if you need to. Make it (and this is important too) pitch black except for the TV! If your TV is small, get very close to it. Damn your eyes! Get close to it, you pansy! I want the static to make your eyelashes stand on end!! Are you that close? Good. Now fast forward past the FBI crap and the advertising drivel, right up to the opening credits. That song should be screaming out your speakers. If it isn't then turn them up, dammit! Are you deaf? What? Okay, good. Now watch this movie with a clear and open mind. Pay attention to the rain, and watch the snow and leaves carefully. Are you getting this? Listen intently to the background noise behind the music, down below the sound effects. Concentrate on that. Use that sound to set the tone for this movie. Watch it all the way through now, no fast forwarding. Fast forwarding through Bambi is for sissies. Take this movie like a man!! Then, when it's done, (and I mean completely done, no stopping until the image fades away) press stop so the TV is black and the audio is silent. No sound or picture should disturb you! Lie there (or sit there, if you prefer) and let the aftereffects of the movie roll around in your head. Now mess with the camera angles and mess with the delays. Pretend that you're watching countless hours of footage that was cut from this release of the movie. Things that ol' Disney wouldn't even consider showing. What happens when "flower" gets angry? What would you see if you were watching the twins' birth? What did "man" look like? Instead of following Bambi when the hunters came, follow his mother. Watch her stain the snow red and become a hide and several pounds of meat. What did it look like when Bambi had to take a dump? When he was shot, he didn't bleed or appear wounded in any way- yet he had trouble walking. Exactly where was he feeling pain, and how? Imagine walking through a world where every sound is buoyed by a background hiss and an occasional crackle or pop. Where your footsteps and breathing and eating make no noise at all, yet your voice is exceedingly loud. Feel anything "odd" about this movie? Feel as if there's something hiding behind the thick, shadowy trees? A voiceless, formless beast that none of the animals are aware of? A beast that devours reality and fuzzes the borders between living people and mindless objects? It turns rain into a living thing, rival deer into evil automatons. With a loud bang that seems to come from thin air, it turns a talking bird with eyes and limbs and fears into nothing but a falling mass of blue feathers. When someone dies, they simply disappear! In a few minutes you could lose five years of your life, and learn nothing!! There's something here that none of the artists intended, an "oddness" that accidentally creeped in around the deficiencies of their storyboards and the limits of their animation, and the fact that they had to design everything so that it would appear a "kids movie". You may catch it or you may not, this "oddness", but if you do it sure is creepy. If you don't, you need to pay more attention to the backgrounds and stop wasting time cooing over how "cute" the characters are. Oh, hell. Maybe it was all the vitamin C I had, sending my brain into shock. Maybe it isn't there, any of it. But I tell ya, it sure was "odd".

Try this...

Go to the Capitola Mall. Walk down the aisles until you come to the big fountain. You can see one of the exits about a hundred yards away. That distance is your gauntlet. Lean out over the fountain and look into it. Stare at your reflection. Feel a scream charging up inside you. An itch that must soon be scratched, an electrical force that quietly pries at the door to your mild-mannered mall-walking self. Think of what a scream would sound like echoing around the mall. Temporarily drowning out the noise of the fountain, ceasing all conversation with a tangible snap. If the scream comes, you will have to run that 100 yards accross the mall and out the door with scores of startled eyes drilling holes into the back of your head. As you burst into the sunlight of the open world and dash around the corner and back into anonymity, you will for some reason feel lucky to have escaped alive. Hmmmm. If you're too much of a social neatnick (read:chickenshit), just think about doing it. One way or the other, I tell ya, it sure feels "odd".