Sunday, August 9, 2015



Hi folks,

If you’re like me and are forced to stay indoors during the daytime and pretend to be a writer, staring out the window at your neighbor’s above-ground pool all day begins to get a bit boring. So, I imagine you’re also like me and put a TV on a table in your writing room where you can look at it occasionally while you whip out your next best-selling novel about meth-crazed minor criminals with hearts of gold.

And, if you’re like me, you start noticing that besides things like the Jerry Springer Show, and CNN (which are basically the same show with different sponsors), there are an awful lot of programs starring alligators and steely-eyed men who search them out to wrestle.

One of the things you may notice is that there are a lot less episodes these days of Mr. Steve Irwin and a lot more of the Gator Boys. After watching a few dozen episodes of each, it’s easy to see why. Besides the fact that Steve Irwin is no longer with us in the flesh, having shuffled off his mortal coil for the heavenly site of Crocodile Paradise (somewhere near Ayre's Rock).

No, it’s because of something entirely different. If you’ll notice, much of the footage of Steve-O subduing crocodiles, took place at his zoo in Australia. They seem to be constantly moving the same alligator to another enclosed cement pond. This poor croc has accumulated more Frequent Mover miles than Hillary Clinton. He’s always being transported to somewhere else, usually because he’s beating up his companion croc. You’d think after awhile, Steve and his crew would catch on that this guy is just plain anti-social and just put him in his own place, but no, every week or so, they find out he’s chewing up his pond mate so they have to gather the crew and a bunch of cameras and move him again.

And, this is why his shows are shown less and less. The first thing he does, is let the audience know just how ferocious these beasts are! Besides the usual warning to “Don't try this at home” (which doesn’t apply to most of the audience who live in non-crocodile or alligator locales and many of those watching have I.Q.s higher than 43 so, while they may vote, they're not prone to rush out and hang a chokehold on a gator), he goes on at length to illustrate just how deadly these beasts are. At this point in time, we’ve seen him feed roughly 263,000 dead chickens to his crocs. It’s pretty much the same each time. He lets us all know that he’s about the only guy in history to ever dare get this close to these killers and then he stands at the edge of the pond and waves a chicken at them. Eventually, they get curious about the guy waving the chicken and are probably hungry on top of it, and they scoot out and lunge at the chicken and snag onto it. Back in the water they go, until the 2:45 show. The fact that they have really short legs and can only lunge about eight inches and that usually tires 'em out, isn't often brought up.

We were pretty well convinced that ol’ Steve-O was pretty much a man’s man, doing all this risky stuff and then this other show came on. The Gator Boys.

This show featured an alpha male and his portly sidekick with a safari hat. Recently, they’ve added a third to the crew, the portly sidekick’s portly girlfriend. She’s the one without a hat.

If you have one of those TVs where you can show two shows side-by-side, take a representative clip from each show and play them simultaneously and you’ll soon see why the Gator Boys and One Dudess have taken the glory away from Steve-O.

When Steve gets ready to capture and remove the bad gator, he gathers his entire crew of 23 people and they all gather around the gator. At his signal, they all jump on the poor creature, covering every square inch of his body so the poor cameraman has no shot of the animal itself and instead, is forced to provide shots of dozens of writhing arms and legs of folks who are smothering the poor gator who has to be wondering what he did to make so many people want to crush him when all he wanted was a couple of drumsticks and a thigh and maybe a scoop of potato salad. All the while guys are leaping onto parts of the gator, Steve-O is yelling about how dangerous all this is and directing each crew member to their six square inches they're to cover. His wife has taken part in the later episodes, and Steve is no male chauvinist pig—not he. She gets to take part in the “capture” herself, usually by taping the croc’s mouth shut while fourteen of the crew hold his jaws shut. Then, once bound by six hundred dollars worth of duct tape and ropes, it takes all 23 of the crew to pick the animal up and carry it to the fence and hoist it over. This feat takes great engineering skill to supervise and all the while we’re told how extremely dangerous this beast is, even though he’s tied up like the Stockholm Syndrome poster girl and how one single misstep could mean certain death for… well, one of the 23 who doesn’t jump back quickly enough should he get loose and go after someone with his bound mouth…

Meanwhile, on your other screen, watch the Gator Boys Plus One Girl in action. The portly one mostly stands on the shore of the lake or pond or swamp, his job to provide commentary on how dangerous all this is to the viewer and the ten-year-old daughter of the pond owner who has obviously been coached by the director to look afraid, but isn't that good of an actress and mostly giggles.

Then, the alpha male shucks his clothes down to his bathing suit and just jumps into the water with one of those sticks with a loop on the end that dog catchers use to snag runaway killer Pekineses with. He swims underwater (being filmed by a defenseless cameraman who doesn’t get enough props at all) until he locates the gator. This takes awhile, as the action keeps shifting back and forth from under the water to the portly guy on the bank who keeps watching alpha male’s bubbles and frets that his buddy may be in trouble since he’s been down there so long. (He never mentions the cameraman who’s been down there just as long and doesn't have a stick with a rope on it.)

Eventually, though, alpha man makes his move, snags the gator and swims him to the edge, handing off the stick to his chunky friend, who then pulls him up. At that point, they take turns walking around the animal to tire him out, and then one of them jumps on him and the other one tapes his mouth shut. (The gator, not the guy, although that's not a bad idea. Maybe tape the portly guy's mouth so we don't have to hear him telling his girlfriend for the 9,023rd time why she can't do this highly dangerous work just yet.) Then, one of them picks up the gator and walks him to the truck. Sometimes, if the animal is say 32 feet long, it’ll take both of them to pick him up, but usually it’s a one-man job. The girl opens the tailgate.

The thing is, though… they didn’t need 23 others to effect this capture. They only needed two guys and a girl who keeps begging to let her in on the fun (which they never do because… well, you know… she’s a girl).

The thing is, the Gator Boys have pretty much revealed that crocs and gators aren’t all that big of a deal to catch. It’s pretty clear it doesn’t require a team of 23 beefy guys to do so.

And, that’s why Steve-O’s show isn’t on that much these days.

I fully anticipate that in the next year or two, a new show will appear with a ten-year-old girl who hunts gator armed only with a mouthful of Juicy Fruit gum and the mystical ability to sooth gators by patting them on the head—the first “Gator Whisperer.” Then, the Gator Boys Plus One Girl will be what we in the writing game call… ancient history.

We’ll see… Meanwhile, keep tuned as next week we’re going to reveal the real reason meth-head low-life criminals are appearing all over the place in bestselling novels. You won’t want to miss that!

Or maybe we'll comment on the Turtle Man who also has a portly sidekick and an accent eerily similar to most of the pilots we've encountered on large planes.We'll go over exciting episodes wherein he grabs feisty racoons by their tails and threatens to turn 'em into hats for ten-year-old boys (who are the basic demographic of his audience). He is amassing a quiet fortune with all the apple pies and boxes of government cheese he's paid with.

Blue skies,

1 comment:

Dana King said...

I've seen the Turtle Guy, but not the Gator Boys. I'm with you about the camera man, and have been for years. I remember, even as a callow youth, watching documentaries of men climbing Everest and the like, showing how risky it is to traverse this snow bridge with instant death possible at any moment, wondering how they got the camera angle from the other side.