Thursday, October 1, 2009


I have recently become the Earthquake and Safety Aide at Bob’s co-op pre-school. From what I understand, my duties will involve maintaining the earthquake kits, organizing the emergency supplies closet, and checking the expiration dates on the Bandaids. This aide position is like a warm embrace for my OCD and my preoccupation with earthquake preparedness. If there were an e-Harmony for pre-school co-op parenting mandated “volunteer” gigs, this is the kind of match I would expect for my $59.95 a month service fee.

I can trace this preoccupation with preparedness back to elementary school. My sixth grade teacher, Mr. McElroy, was a large red headed gentleman who favored sweater vests and frequently sang the chorus to "Lady of Spain" during our math quizzes. Every Friday was class movie day. Mr. McElroy entrusted Greg MacCrone with all of the responsibilities of movie day since he was the only one in the class who could operate the projector. Greg, a sociopath in training, was also in charge of picking the movies.

Every week, Greg’s picks were the same: A film with bare chested third world women, Disney’s Johnny Tremaine bio-pic, something with animals killing and eating other animals, and a selection from the U.S. Defense Civil Preparedness Agency series, Your Chance to Live. All of these played out over the high pitched maniacal laughter of Greg MacCrone.

The Your Chance to Live movies were educational films about disasters with themes like “Tornadoes,” “Volcanoes,” and “Technological Failures.” To say that these films were creepy does them a disservice; they were testaments to abject terror. Scary music, detached and poorly written voice over, scenes of panic, death, and devastation, the Tsunami episode still gives me weekly nightmares. (Ask my therapist.) Ditto the scenes of people buried alive in lava at Pompeii. Always manning the projector controls, Greg would rewind the film and replay the most disturbing sections. (Cue Greg MacCrone cackle.)

Lost in his world of paper grading and oldies radio, Mr. McElroy seemed oblivious to the wholly inappropriate nature of movie day. I, however, am scarred for life. Now, as the newly appointed Earthquake and Safety Aide, I will put my own trauma aside and as a public service I present to you a rare gem of weirdness, terror, and low production values, Your Chance to Live: Earth Watch.

Your safety is my goal. As for insurance co-pays for your mental health care practitioner, you are on your own.


  1. the music alone could give me nightmares! it's all "SEEMINGLY PLACID"!!!

  2. I'm sure the line: "The very precision of it's operation, like a surrealistic dream..." went over big in sixth grade.

  3. If you watch that clip, it's really a Haiku. I don't know why that struck me. Perhaps it's my defenses to scary episodes.

    Speaking of, the only thing I remember about Johnny Tremaine is that he burned his hand and his fingers fused together. I am certain I watched it no less than 8 times during 6th grade. I am starting to wish I had paid better attention to the bare chested men, though.

  4. BTW, I love the new picture!

    Will you adopt me?

  5. Yes - the burned hand scene was on MacCrone's endless loop...
    And I will adopt anyone who is willing to vacuum.

  6. Okay, I watched 1:37 of this and freaked out. Something about the breathing galaxy made me think it was going to be Your Chance to Live: Acid Trip.

    Love the new picture as well. Gosh, that kid is cute.

  7. I can SO relate.

    I get positively GIDDY over packing our emergency kit. I have enough stuff in there to barter my way out of a prison camp, or start a new civilization. I envy your new position. Does it come with a badge? *I* want a badge.

    I am not even going to tell you how many bottles of distilled water and dehydrated beef meals I have in my secret bunker, lest you come over and steal them in the event of Armageddon.

  8. god i remember watching these type films when I was in school the erie music and is the man that did the voice for all of him his voice is so hauntingly familiar. This is still freaky to watch today, nonetheless i still have yet to prepare an emergency kit I really should though

  9. Maybe Greg MacCrone will find your blog and feel really, really guilty. That would be a nice and satifying ending to this story.

  10. Nope. No guilt, just bemusement.