To Catch a Predator

One of the reasons I love network TV (possibly the only reason) is that just when you’re so fed up with all the bullshit that you’re about to swear off TV altogether, something crawls out from the wreckage, much like a wildflower seeking out the sun. To Catch a Predator is just such a flower.

I was a fan of the Dateline clips of the same name from the moment they aired on YouTube, but I held out no hope or expectation that the bit would get a spin-off. I was personally hoping to see a full hour of John Stossel’s delightful reports, but alas, it’s beginning to seem like that is only a pipe dream. The point is, I was flipping through the channels one day, lamenting the lack of quality programming, beer in hand (probably). All of a sudden, something beautiful appeared before me. At first I thought it was just another one of the Dateline bits, but slowly it dawned on me that this was no ordinary segment on America’s favorite news magazine. It was, in fact, its own show. The BEST SHOW EVER MADE.

There are so many reasons I love this show, I don’t know where to begin. First of all, unlike, say, Dr. Phil, with this show there’s no pussyfooting around it. It’s all child molesters, all the time. No phony cliffhangers, no lie detector test results that take three episodes to be revealed. No, it’s just good honest American kidfuckers, naked, armed, and humiliated beyond belief. Plus, they don’t spend a half hour analyzing one boring guy. In fact, they manage to squeeze in more mini-dramas in their time slot than probably any other reality-style show.

Another thing that blows me away is the cheesily reenacted IM transcripts. For one thing, instead of LOL, they have them giggle ridiculously. It’s really weird. Also, they manage to get the most wholesome sounding actors to play the child molesters. By the time the guy shows up you expect him to be Charles Bronson.

What I always wonder is, are there really this many child molesters in the world? I guess it makes sense, but who’s dumb enough to hit on kids on the internet these days? Doesn’t anyone watch, say, To Catch a Predator?

Grizzly Man

Documentaries are usually pretty satisfying as viewing material goes. Usually edifying and often thought-provoking, nothing goes better than a cup of coffee and a pretentious art school date than a fine documentary. But every now and then, a nonfiction film can flat-out change the way you think, and Grizzly Man is one of these. Director Werner Herzog takes on a challenging topic, the grisly (pun intended) death of a naturalist named Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend at the hands, or paws, of a grizzly bear, and he succeeds admirably. He positions himself clearly by pointing out the ethical dilemmas he faced during the making of the documentary, and in fact remains so tactful in his presentation of the topic that he and his humanity become part of the story. His interview subjects come off as alternately morbid, angry, and loving. The morbidity comes largely from the coroner who worked with the ill-fated couple’s remains, and who seems to get a wee bit too much pleasure out of describing the details of the unfortunate event. And details there are. Nobody rents a movie about a horrific bear attack without wanting to hear at least a little of the juicy stuff, so this seems appropriate, but Herzog is no paparazzo, and he makes that clear in a scene where he recommends that a friend of the couple destroy an audio tape of the deaths, which remains in her possession and most assuredly out of the film.

What remains the most affecting about this film, however, is the overwhelming sense of dread and horror of what happened, combined with the beauty and adventure of Timothy’s life in the wild. The fact that he captured so much of his life, and such a wide range of emotions and experiences, makes it all the more amazing. You can’t help but envy him a little as foxes follow him around like dogs, and as he describes his relationships with beloved bears. He had befriended some of these creatures for over ten years, and there is adequate proof that the bear who saw fit to end his life was not one that he’d established a relationship with, and in fact was unusually aggressive and unstable. This only goes to further Timothy’s case for the possibility of safe bear-human cohabitation. Not that I ever had my doubts.

If this film is one thing, it’s haunting. Also, every time I see a picture of a bear, I feel a kinship that wasn’t there before. I can’t ask much more than that from a film. Except perhaps robot bears.

Meat-Free Mixers: Vegetarian Parties That Don’t Involve Hippie Drum Circles

Vegetables RF smaller

Ah, spring! Time again to break out those wrinkled (and probably out of fashion) shorts and subject the world to your blinding pastiness. Time to fall victim to the hypnotizing power of those demonic Mister Softee chimes, tolling over and over like twisted church bells at a wedding chapel…in Hell. Time, in short, to celebrate the end of the long and horrible winter. Granted, this year’s winter wasn’t really all that long or horrible, in New York, at least, but we’re still dying to break out the short sleeves, and of course those fabulous dresses that haven’t seen the light of day since Halloween. But Laura, you may ask, how can I show off my springtime look to maximum effect? With everyone’s conflicting schedules these days it can be tough to get everyone into the same room so that they can lavish praise on you. That’s one of the many reasons you might want to throw what those crazy teenagers call a party.

But what if you’re a vegetarian? It is a commonly known fact that 8 out of 9 parties involve some sort of meat product, from kebabs to crab puffs to good old American barbeque. Having recently stopped eating meat, this is an issue of some concern to yours truly. Therefore, I have come up with a few suggestions for those in a similar predicament to mine. Behold!

-Porn and Quorn

You may recall hearing something about a group of college kids (slackers, no doubt) who started a ritual involving the viewing of pornography and the consumption of fried chicken. Sexy adventures inevitably resulted, as well as a TV movie. But as anyone who’s been to a college campus lately can tell you, all the hot coeds are going veggie. So for the gentleman who wishes to get him some hot hippie tail, the perfect solution is a Porn and Quorn party. It retains the most important element of any party, namely hardcore porn, but without the dead chickens. Quorn, for those who don’t know, is a brilliant meat substitute that is gaining popularity due to its availability in hippie food markets like Whole Foods. Their breaded faux chicken is a decent substitute; it probably wouldn’t impress a diehard KFC fan, but for a protein-deprived vegetarian, it’s about as good as it gets.

-Wine and Cheese

Sure, it’s a cliché, but there’s a reason wine and cheese continue to be party mainstays, year by year. For one thing, wine gets you drunk, and as we all know, getting drunk is the best thing ever. For another thing, cheese is delicious, especially when you’re drunk, and it takes little to no preparation. No food is better as a fallback last-minute party gift, as even the lowliest block of cheddar will be welcomed with open mouths. You must beware, however, of those who wish to turn a simple night of borderline alcoholics gathering to stuff their gullets full of fat into something far, far more pretentious. Some people actually think that you can tell wines apart. They might even tell you that if wine costs seven dollars and comes in a five liter box, it isn’t “good enough” for their refined palates. Ignore these imbeciles. They clearly wouldn’t know a good Mountain Burgundy if it bit them in the ass.

-Whiskey and Pie

As wonderful as wine and cheese may be for getting you laid by cultural types, they won’t get you everyone. Some have humbler tastes, and for these rugged individualists, nothing says home like a fat slice of pie, served up as the good Lord intended it, which of course is with massive amounts of whiskey. Bourbon will also do nicely, and if you really want to earn some hipster points you can always go for rye, but I prefer good old fashioned whiskey, which some say is the devil. As for the pie, you can ask your guests to prepare pies of their own, or you can go all out and make them all yourself. That way you know they won’t totally suck. As this is a meat-free party, you’ll want to steer clear of Pot Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, and my grandma’s favorite, Rhubarb ‘n Pork. But whatever you do, don’t insult the uptight Mayor’s wife, or hilarity may very likely ensue.