Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Links of Interest 4/30

Here's someone's list of the top 50 television comedies of all time. I hesitate to call it definitive as I didn't see Get a Life on there.

Looking to mix science with thrill seeking? Here's a few places where you can check out fossils and possibly step on a landmine!

What happens when you love this Honda ad, own a print shop and have a very low budget for advertising? This.

How can you make the theme to Quincy better? By singing awesome lyrics along with it.

And finally a feel good story about human trafficking.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Links of Interest 4/29



Iron Man opens soon...here's a new clip from the movie.

Be careful what you invent. It just may come back to kill you.

Who doesn't want to read sound advice from serial killers?

We here at The Popcorn Trick think it's only a matter of time before the SGD (shit goes down)> That's why we want to make sure you're prepared.

Ok, I know Chuck Liddell is a badass, but this Kimbo Slice guy looks like someone you don't want to piss off.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Links of Interest 4/28

Loved Mr. Show, so I can't wait to see what these guys come up with for their new HBO special.

I know that baseball relies heavily on tried and true, but the ideas presented here as innovative are kinda no brainers when you think about it.

Had this happened, the 7 year old me would have been upset, but at least I wouldn't have had to witness that barge scene in Return of the Jedi.

Space...or at least what it looks like getting into space.

Not sure how happy I am to hear there might be murder clubs around the country.

Who doesn't love Japanese videos?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Top 25 Opening Credits of 80's televsion action shows

I grew up on 80s action shows. While other kids watched Silver Spoons, I caught up on my Simon & Simon. As a result, I saw a lot of cops, detectives, bounty hunters and others stop a lot of crime. But how did I know what shows to watch? Back then the Internet didn’t exist, and there were pretty much only 3 major television stations.

The only thing people had to go on really were the opening credit sequences.

Nowadays, it seems many television shows have eschewed the opening credits to go right into the story. And I miss those sexy montages of explosions and buffoonery. That’s why I’ve created this list of the top 25 opening credits from 80s action shows.

To create this ranking I’ve come up with a fairly complex equation. Each show is rated on a scale of 1-10 in each of the following categories:

Action
Sexiness
Cheesiness
Homoeroticism
Intangibles

Judging was based on credits alone, with no points awarded or deduced for the quality of the actual show. Had that been the case, Simon & Simon would win hands down.

Without any more words, here are the top 25 action show opening credit sequences:

#25. Miami Vice



Action: 4
Sexiness 4 (not even a head shot of Philip Michael Thomas?)
Cheesiness: 1
Homoeroticism: 0
Intangibles: 1
Total: 10

Aside from the popular song the show introduced, these credits are lame. Trying to be too cool for school back in the 80s does not translate well here in the 20whatever-it-is century. I will give points for the jai lai scene though.

#24. Cagney & Lacey



Action: 2 (That’s generous)
Sexiness: 3 (This one even more so)
Cheesiness: 8
Homoeroticism: 1
Intangibles: 1
Total: 15

Quite possibly the most sexist entry in the list, the opening credits barely have the two women detectives unholster their guns. When they do the action is almost nonexistent. What we do get are a lot of suggestive scenarios, because, ha ha these cops are women! I mean, do we really need the flasher scene? If I were a woman, this would offend me.


#23. CHiPs



Action: 1
Sexiness: 4 (it IS Erick Estrada)
Cheesiness: 4
Homoeroticism: 5 (they do share a nice smile as they ride side by side on their bikes)
Intangibles: 2
Total: 16

Surprisingly low on the list, these credits are boring. I remember the birds-eye view of the motorcycle cops on the California highway, but thought there was more. Nope – just weird cutaways to parts of their uniform. We get it, they’re cops. No disco Estrada?

#22. Rockford Files


Action: 1
Sexiness: 5
Cheesiness: 0 (it’s more sad than anything, especially the shot of Jim Rockford shopping alone in the frozen food section)
Homoeroticism: 0
Intangibles: 11 (The song is fantastic, and the credits perfectly set up what you’re getting: a detective barely making ends meet.)
Total: 17

I remember watching Rockford Files when I would get home from school. I loved James Garner from age 7 on. I’m not sure what that says about me. I do know that it’s a risky move using still photos in the credits here. I also wish that the dialog at the end of the answering machine message was switched to: “and yes, I’ll go out with you,” instead of the lame set up about his finances followed by the date talk. That’s just poor writing. I would write more, but I doubt the two people reading care too much about a throwaway line in the opening of a forgotten detective show.

#21 Remington Steele



Action: 5
Sexiness: 5
Cheesiness: 5
Homoeroticism: 0
Intangibles: 4
Total: 19

Surprising amount of action for a show you remember your mother liking. Take for example, the weird hanging corpse scene. I have no idea where they were snooping around to bump into dead bodies hanging from the ceiling. Possibly the set of Coma?

#20 Jake and the Fatman



Action: 3
Sexiness: 4
Cheesiness: 5
Homoeroticism: 6
Intangibles: 2
Total: 20

I didn’t watch this at all, so I’m not sure who Jake is or why he hangs around with a fatman (William Conrad). The credits start out great with gunplay from 80s television staple Joe Penny, but really bogs down with the sudden overuse of city shots mucking up the remaining two thirds.

#19. Buck Rogers



Action: 1
Sexiness: 5
Cheesiness: 9
Homoeroticism: 4
Intangibles: 3
Total: 22

For a show that was set in the future and featured dog fights in space and aliens, the opening credits lack excitement. And what country green lights a solo space mission these days?

#18. Airwolf



Action: 8 (Someone actually dies in the opening credits)
Sexiness: 2 (Helicopter flight suits don’t lend themselves to sexy)
Cheesiness: 2
Homoeroticism: 4
Intangibles: 7 (Ernest Borgnine!)
Total: 23

There’s no missing the helicopter in this show, because it’s about one. I wonder if this is the only opening credits where someone actually dies? I also love the shot of the helicopter reaching Mach 8. Is that even possible for a normal plane?

#17. Vega$



Action: 7
Sexiness: 6
Cheesiness: 3
Homoeroticism: 3
Intangibles: 5
Total: 24

Dan Tanna had a sweet candy-apple red convertible and the city of Vegas lends itself quite nicely as a sexy location to host a show. No idea where the clip of the boat marina is from though. Driving around with a lion in the passenger seat was a nice touch.

TIE: #15. Quincy



Action: 4
Sexiness: 4
Cheesiness: 10
Homoeroticism: 3
Intangibles: 4
Total: 25

Has the required car crash and explosion shots. And of course, the slow reveal at the end where we find out Quincy wasn’t examining a body all along, but the gams of a beautiful dame is a great touch. But there is something bothering me. When Quincy begins the autopsy in front of the police cadets, and 2 fall immediately when he reveals the corpse, why doesn’t he stop? Is he that callous, or does he not notice? Either one isn’t a great answer.

TIE: #15 Knight Rider



Action: 5
Sexiness: 5
Cheesiness: 7
Homoeroticism: 6
Intangibles: 2
Total: 25

For such a great show, the credits leave me a little ho hum. And KITT was clearly gay, right? Michael Knight, the jury’s still out.

#14 Blue Thunder



Action: 5
Sexiness: 3
Cheesiness: 8
Homoeroticism: 7
Intangibles: 3
Total: 26

Another helicopter show, but with a little more humor infused with the addition of a pre-SNL Dana Carvey. Guess he’s happy the show didn’t take off (though possibly less so now). I can only assume Butkus and Bubba Smith were used for comic relief as well – it couldn’t’ have been for their acting.

#13 Hardcastle and McCormick



Action: 7
Sexiness: 2
Cheesiness: 7
Homoeroticism: 8
Intangibles: 3
Total: 27

Hardcastle (or McCormick) drives around in a cool racecar stopping crime, I guess. The other one is a judge I guess. Hardcastle (or McCormick) then come back to the judge and then probably have pillow fights until the next crime is committed. While I wish it was some weird Star Chamber vigilante driven series, I really doubt it.

#12 Tales of the Gold Monkey



Action: 5
Sexiness: 7
Cheesiness: 5
Homoeroticism: 6 (Almost non-existent until the end when Roddy McDowell shows up with a parrot)
Intangibles: 5
Total: 28

This “nothing-like-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark” series definitely looks cool, and seemingly has 2 female leads for the main character to bounce back and forth between. Plus, who doesn’t laugh at a dog wearing an eye patch?

#11 Automan



Action: 3
Sexiness: 4
Cheesiness: 10
Homoeroticism: 8
Intangibles: 4
Total: 29

Not sure where to start. Let’s just say you knew what you were getting into with this show when they introduce an animated “cursor” as himself. Clever. They also manage to shoehorn a helicopter in there. Many of you will question the very idea that this was even on the air, but trust me, it was. I'm pretty that including the producers, I'm one of 4 people that have see every episode.

#10 Simon & Simon



Action: 7
Sexiness: 6
Cheesiness: 7
Homoeroticism: 2 (if they weren’t brothers on the show, let’s just say this number would have vaulted them into first place)
Intangibles: 8
Total: 30

I loved Simon & Simon as a kid. 9 o’clock, Thursday nights, right after Magnum P.I. The opening credits let you know exactly what you’re going to get: 2 guys – one a little proper, one a little rough – bickering and solving crimes. We all know what happened to Gerald McRaney (Major Dad) but where did Jameson Parker go? Simon & Simon was that good to him that he could live off residuals?

#9 Hart to Hart



Action: 7
Sexiness: 7
Cheesiness: 7
Homoeroticism: 3
Intangibles: 7
Total: 31

As far as needing a millionaire detective couple to solve your murder, you could do a lot worse than Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers. For being a show about an attractive couple solving crimes, it does suggest a good amount of action coming the viewers’ way. I’m not sure why it was “murder” when they met. Maybe, their first date was at one of those murder mystery dinners.

#8 Manimal



Action: 5
Sexiness: 2
Cheesiness: 14
Homoeroticism: 2
Intangibles: 9
Total: 32

I would have loved to sit in the pitch meeting for this one. I think it started from the clever title and went from there. This opening hints at a tremendous, nonsensical back-story as to how this guy came to be able to turn into an animal at will, involving an African tribal guy, a full moon, his father’s dying ramblings, and then his disappearing corpse. Huh?

#7 Hunter



Action: 8
Sexiness: 7
Cheesiness: 6
Homoeroticism: 3
Intangibles: 9
Total: 33

Guns, car chases and scowls. That pretty much defines Hunter’s opening credits. That and the pretentious act of the female lead choosing to spell her name, “Stepfanie.” Was Fred Dryer the best of the former football stars turned actors of the lot, or am I forgetting someone>

#6 Magnum P.I.



Action: 7
Sexiness: 6
Cheesiness: 5
Homoeroticism: 9
Intangibles: 7
Total: 34

Everyone is familiar with these opening credits. Hawaii… the Ferrari… helicopter… explosions… Selleck’s stache… it’s all there. Watching it now though, I really have to start wondering if Magnum was gay. I mean, he lived on an estate with Higgins, who was clearly homosexual, had a mechanic that liked to wear nothing under his overalls, and was buddies with Rick, the flamboyant club owner. Hmmm.

#5 The Fall Guy



Action: 10
Sexiness: 6
Cheesiness: 6
Homoeroticism: 5
Intangibles: 8
Total: 35

What better way to portray a stuntman/bounty hunter in the opening credits than to create a montage of action movie stunts? Then, get Lee Majors, (the star) to perform the original song, mix in a smattering of Doug Barr (and I do mean a smattering) and a gratuitous Heather Thomas-in-a-bikini shot, and you’ve got yourself one of the all time openings for an 80s action show.

#4 Matt Houston



Action: 10
Sexiness: 9
Cheesiness: 2
Homoeroticism: 5
Intangibles: 10
Total: 36

If there’s one thing I learned watching this opening: you do not want to piss off Matt Houston. Jesus, this guy is tough. And it doesn’t hurt to start off sporting a turtleneck-with-a-sports-jacket look. The opening credits here are packed with all the action clich├ęs we’ve come to love: helicopter, guns, car chases, tires screeching, boats, shirts off, etc. Then of course we’re treated to Buddy Epsen, so all is right with the world. And Lee Horsley is sporting a mustache to rival Selleck’s! I know this was a Magnum ripoff, but c’mon, why wasn’t this more successful?

#3 The A-Team



Action: 8
Sexiness: 5
Cheesiness: 9
Homoeroticism: 8
Intangibles: 9
Total: 39

Arguably the most popular 80s action show of the lot, this one has everything. It thrives on violence, explosions and guns. Watch the opening again before you start complaining about the high cheesiness score. When Dirk Benedict is the most responsible member of your team, you have problems.

#2 Riptide



Action: 7
Sexiness: 8 (they actually write a break in the action-oriented song to work as an “homage” to California pop, right as bikini-clad models stroll by)
Cheesiness: 7
Homoeroticism: 8 (Watch the volleyball scene again)
Intangibles: 10
Total: 40

Lots of gun play, lots of boats and lots of Joe Penny. There isn’t too much else you could add to make it better. The last of the shows revolving around a helicopter (indirectly) is also the best. It’s mix of action and humor is so perfect that it should have easily cruised into the #1 spot if it weren’t for…

#1 TJ Hooker



Action: 9
Sexiness: 9
Cheesiness: 8
Homoeroticism: 9
Intangibles: 10
Total: 45

I don’t know how he does it, but Adrian Zmed singlehandedlt makes these opening credits score high in both sexiness and homoeroticism. A young Locklear doesn’t hurt either. And then there’s good ol’ Resue 911 narrator Bill Shatner. I love his roll across the roof, and I love his intense/stoned/crazy look when he draws his gun at the start of this. Is there anything he won’t do to catch his perp? He jumps on the wing of a bi-plane for Christ’s sake! All this, and he’s a beat patrolman. I can only imagine how many “Policeman of the Year” plaques he has in his house.

So what have we learned today, other than to be some type of law enforcement agent in the 80s you needed boats, explosions and black sidekicks? Admittedly, not much. But there will always be a place in my heart for awesome 80s television, and it all starts with the opening credits montage.

Agree? Disagree? Was there something I missed? Let me know what YOU think in the comments section.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

PODCAST RECAP - Episode 7.00

We were working without a net on this one. It was our first podcast episode without a Lost segment, so we had to comb Wikipedia to find something to talk about.

We get political with songs we would use for our respective Presidential campaigns.

Congratulations to our most recent contest winner, Shirtless Tim Johnson who suggested the political theme.

Enjoy yourselves!Music from the episode:

SeeqPod - Playable Search



Links:
Various videos:

Drive-By Truckers' President's Penis is Missing:


One of Shirtless' songs has already been used in an awesome low-budget soda commercial:


OK, this is the real one:

Monday, April 14, 2008

The end of Rock of Love 2 (and my innocence)

Full disclosure: I didn’t watch the whole episode. I missed a lot of Daisy’s date (post vomit), and the whole spa day for the two ladies after their dates. So, it’s possible during the few times I flipped over to Law & Order: Criminal Intent to cleanse my soul that I missed the moments of serenity and speeches of redemption.

I doubt it though.

Quick recap to get us up to speed: Bret narrowed his choice down to 2 contestants – the mother figure Amber who dominated mud football and lied about her age (anyone else think she’s still lying?); and Daisy, the young lass who still lives with her ex-boyfriend, hung out with CC sometime in the past, and looks like Janice from the Muppets.

It’s such a nice corner we’ve all been backed into.

Instead of choosing to stay in LA (or wherever that ridiculous mansion is), Bret decides to take the two ladies to Cancun, to a lovely resort that beat us over the head with its name every 30 seconds.

Once in Cancun and past the hokey “traditional Mayan” dance greeting that everyone fawned over, (I cringe at the idea that people actually dressed up as Mayans and then performed for this trinity) we got to the meat and potatoes of the show: 2 days, 2 dates and a lot of tongue.

First up: Ambre.


So Ambre thinks that the one thing going against her is that she isn’t “sexy” enough for Bret. Good for Bret, bad for the viewer. Because, while their date to some wildlife preserve(?), followed by a spa day seemed cool, their layvers in Make-out City every 6 seconds only emboldened my distaste for Ambre, Bret, and now the entire Cancun resort. Sorry Cancun, I will never be able to unsee those images. I wonder if the producers have some sort of make-out ratio for each show, and decided to throw it out the window for the finale?

Of course, that’s nothing compared to what followed. It’s something I like to refer to as “the most revolting 15 seconds of television in network history.” Ambre, still concerned about her “sexiness” factor, whores herself up enough to look like a matron at a brothel, and meets Bret for a romantic dinner. Unfortunately, Bret doesn’t take her to In & Out, which would have been all kinds of awesome. Anyway, so the two are alone (and when I say that, assume for the context of the show "alone" is defined as at least one cameraman, a director and a PA of some sort) and Ambre randomly announces she is not wearing underwear.

Fair enough. This would be sexy if a twenty-five year old said it. When a sagging “thirty-seven” year old says it, the luster is lost.

Ending there would have been one thing, but things go from distasteful to beastly. Bret asks to see(!) her proclaimed bare nether regions and Ambre more than happily obliges, probably thinking to herself that she’s got this thing wrapped (or unwrapped) up.

She goes all Brenda Bakke on us (note: Ok, so Sharon Stone would be the easier reference, but honestly, the first thought that went through my mind was the scene from Hot Shots! Part Deux), which left both mine and Bret’s mouths agape, though for completely opposite reasons.

After that it was drinks down and up to the suite where we were led to believe that the deal was sealed. At least that’s what I got out of it. I was contemplating how to get a Silkwood shower installed.

Date 2: Daisy

Nothing short of some kind of orgy was going to beat Ambre’s day. Of course, this being Daisy’s date, who’s to say it wouldn’t happen? Sadly, not only was there no orgy, Daisy blew (literally) her chances of any post-show romance on the boat. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Bret’s date with Daisy consisted of deep-sea fishing. Sounds like Daisy drew the short straw on this one. Right away, Bret, in a rare attempt to see what makes Daisy tick, tries to engage Daisy in a semi-serious conversation. Daisy responds with a string of words that don’t really fit together, ultimately trailing off into confusion. And that was the best part of the day!

Things go from bad to vomit quickly, when Daisy realizes she doesn’t like fishing, boats, or her previous meal. In a rare form of decency, the producers choose not to show us her puking over the side of the boat, instead cutting to a strategically placed cutesy cartoon graphic of an explosion. The fishing trip ends abruptly, and it’s here I decide to bow out and see what wild leap of logic Goren is making (unfortunately, it’s a Logan episode, but I stayed with it. His partner in this particular episode was the boyish looking one, who though a mediocre actor, has a certain quality about her. It’s hard to put a finger on what it is, which only induces you to keep watching. Brilliant strategy by Wolf if that indeed was his strategy).
I figured it was Ambre’s to lose, and short of admitting her real age, she had it locked up.

My suspicions were confirmed when I flipped back around 10:20. Bret looked casually foolish in a silver suit and black bandana, dragged the elimination out, and tried to fool us all with the ol’ switcheroo by calling Daisy down first as though she got the pass. But no – her tour ended there.

And so another season of Rock of Love ends, possibly with Bret finding his true love (or mother figure). I’m happy and sad all at once; happy that my life won’t be consumed by this show; sad for the same reason.

Oh well, there’s always the reunion show next week.


And here's a horrible quality video of the climax!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I made you a "mix tape."

Remember when the best/coolest way to declare your love to someone was to make them a tape of songs? The time and effort devoted to choosing the perfect songs to tease the ulterior motive likely destroyed more relationships than it fostered. And ending it with “In Your Eyes?” Yeah – not your most original idea.

However, it was sort of sad to see the death of the mix tape. Sure CDs can be burned now, and playlists can be shared more prominently than ever on the Internet, but I have yet to stumble across that one website that affectionately remembers the fun and spontaneity of a mix tape.

Until now…



Muxtape.com is simple. You upload songs, arrange their order, give your set a name and then share it with the world. It’s easy and best of all, utilizes your record collection. If you want to put “Into the Mystic” next to that cool yodeling track you recorded with your dog – you got it.

And so, to break my muxtape cherry and yours (hey baby…) I humbly submit my first mix for your enjoyment. No, it’s not a declaration of love for any of you (I love you all, but we’re not at the mix tape stage yet) it’s something to get your feet moving. Who doesn’t love the funk? Throw it on when you’re pretending to clean your house, and in no time at all your neighbors will be gawking at your awkward body gyrations as they peep at you through your windows.

Click here to get your body jangly!

Trust me when I say I took waaay more time than I needed to choosing songs and choosing an order. Just like a mix tape should.

Seriously, if this doesn’t get you dancing, well then you’re just plain stupid.

And please – try it and throw your links in the comments. The community of music just got a neat ally in muxtape.com, and we’d be silly not to share.

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Jam of the Indeterminate Time Period: Black Kids "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You"

I'll try and do this every week (nothing resembling a guarantee about that). I'll briefly highlight a new (or maybe not-so-new) song that is currently infesting my brain. More often than not, it'll be something that caught my ear via Sirius. I want feedback, but I'll probably ignore it if it's not positive. Feel free to turn me on (dead man) to some other good Jams of Your Indeterminate Time Period.

My first entry is the Black Kids awesomely titled "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You".



I'm not going to sit here cross-legged and tell you that this is the most original, genre-shattering, era-defining masterpiece. It's not. It's basically Robert Smith fronting The Go! Team (the lead singer may even be Smith's illegitimate mixed-race son). You could do a lot worse Frankensteining bands together, though. It has a great flow and is catchy as hell (likely to be a recurring theme).

The lyrics depict a story as old as time. Guy loves girl. Girl has jerk boyfriend. Guy employs sympathetic female backup singers to count to 4 in between his complaints. Guy won't teach jerk boyfriend to dance because "He's got two left feet and he bites my moves." Guy gets girl, but wonders how he compares to the jerk boyfriend. Just like in West Side Story.

I do deduct points for yet another "Black Plural Objects"/"Descriptive Phrase Kids" approach to band-naming. With a modicum of searching my brain and the Internets, here are a *lot* of other new-ish bands that follow this hackneyed pattern:
  1. Black Lips
  2. Black Keys
  3. Black Dice
  4. Black Ghosts
  5. Black Diamond Heavies
  6. Black Hollies
  7. Cold War Kids
  8. Cool Kids
  9. No Kids
This needs to stop. Now.

I'm willing to be the bigger man, and sublimate my loathing for their unorigiinal name in exchange for singing along to the chorus. Also, I think liking a band named "Black Kids" makes you less racist.

N-Joi yourself.

While you're listening, check out this article from The Morning News where the author listened to 1 song by 763 SXSW bands and wrote a 6-word review for each.

The official video (eh):


A live version:


Cline

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Hidden Hollow Files


The Hidden Hollow Files is an attempt to recount the golden era (1991-1994) of Hidden Hollow Swim Club, a pool facility nestled in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

The grounds of Hidden Hollow were unlike any other suburban swim club I have ever seen. Admittedly, I have only been to a handful community pools, but they all shared similar shapes and feels. Trust me when I say Hidden Hollow had a list things other pools (and insurance companies) feared.

And the 10-meter platform topped that list.



The crown jewel of Hidden Hollow Swim Club sat smack dab in the middle of the grounds; an L-shaped monstrosity of a pool that caused the staff’s most joy and heartache. The long part of the L consisted of a 50-meter Olympic-sized pool with a depth that gradually descended from four to five feet. An old, roughly sewn rope separated it from the small part of the L, or the diving well. This diving well (or “dives,” as the guards called it) had a depth of 20 feet at its deepest, to accommodate a 10-meter platform. Touching the bottom was a chore – one that I rarely did due to the pressure and the energy expended to make it down and back. Now, before setting foot in the thrifty confines of Hidden Hollow, I had always thought 10-meter platforms were relegated to fancy college diving programs and Olympic facilities. Obviously, I was wrong. Apparently, as long as you were the owner of an “orchard” in a Southeastern Pennsylvania suburban community, you could house a 10-meter platform.

Though scary and imposing, the 10-meter was only one of the many danger areas of the dives. There were countless other ways to seriously injure and/or kills there. The dives consisted of a one-meter concrete diving board, two one-meter springboards, a three-meter springboard, and the actual platform stanchion. This stanchion included a three, six and the aforementioned 10-meter platform. At any given time all of these pieces came into play –children and adults of various ages, weights, and swimming coordination all used the apparatus to hurl themselves into the over/under (but rarely correctly) chlorinated pool, while a doe-eyed lifeguard nervously twirled his whistle and surveyed this Chinese menu of potential death, counting the seconds until another guard relieved him.

Yes, all of it was always in play – except for the 10-meter platform.

The 10-meter platform was a special beast. Because it sat directly over the three-meter platform, it remained closed for much of the day (see picture). This rule probably saved thousands of lives. The only person with the authorization(?) to open it was the manager on duty for the day. You would think this was because the manager had special, extra lifesaving training and could respond much quicker to an emergency. Of course you would also be wrong.

This tale is not about the 10-meter platform though. This tale begins much deeper.

As I mentioned earlier, the diving well had a depth of 20 feet. At the very bottom was a small grate that housed… something important. I’m not going to pretend I understood the inner mechanics of the pools, save for the filters (I’m a filter ninja, but that’s another story). Regardless, I knew about the grate (it was about 2 by 3 feet in size, so you could see it from the side of the pool) but had no idea what it housed, hid or did.

One fine summer day though, that grate indirectly affected my life – and directly affected another’s. My manager, Mr. P (identity hidden for a host of reasons) stood in the office and proclaimed that the diving well had a leak – and something underneath the grate was the popular suspect. We couldn’t be sure, however, until someone swam down and tested it. This entailed taking a small bottle of dye and squeezing it near the grate. If the dye was sucked down, there was a problem.

He looked around the room for volunteers. No one raised a hand.

Now, let’s for a second ignore the fact that as lifeguards we were being paid slightly more than prisoners (less than minimum wage, actually. How? Apparently there is a little known Farmer’s Wage that could be implemented because the pool happened to be on “orchard” grounds – whatever that means). The water pressure at 20 feet, coupled with the fact that to reach the bottom, perform a Mr. Wizard-like science experiment, and return to surface took a decent amount of energy. And though most of the guards were in decent shape, none of us were trained Navy Seals.

Mr. P picked up on our collective level of disinterest/fear, and walked out without another word. We didn’t hear about the leak for the next few days and thought the matter would trickle away, much like the water level in the pool. But Mr. P was smarter than his scatter-brained, non-sequitur chatter implied. And while his actions wound up nearly killing him, in the end no one got seriously hurt and the event became legend.

Mr. P introduced SCUBA gear into the equation.

It began innocently enough. A few guards and myself were working hard through our daily routine of not doing anything when we saw Mr. P down on the deck of the diving well with an oxygen tank. In one sly move, he turned a somewhat risky job into an amusement park ride for us. We ran down to see if we could help - and to play Jacques Cousteau. Mr. P allowed us to take turns donning the tank and swimming around the bottom of the pool. My turn came, and while excited, once on the bottom I immediately began hyperventilating. Not wanting to be a pussy, I remained in a weird, anxiety-ridden state on the pool floor for a few minutes, wondering if I needed to be concerned about the bends if I surfaced too quickly (hey, I saw The Abyss).

I’d say four of us took that “magical,” underwater journey, every one of us even checking and confirming the leak. And for us, the journey ended there. None of us could fix the leak, nor would the pool owners close the pool for the appropriate amount of time (Days? Weeks?) to fix it. We figured the pool would most likely be able to handle it until season’s end, as long as an eye was kept on it.

But Mr. P had other ideas. Or maybe someone ordered him to find a solution. Whatever the reason, the SCUBA gear remained at the pool. The next day, Mr. P was out there on the deck of the diving well, with the oxygen tank, strapping it on, getting ready to go down there himself. Since the leak was already confirmed, this dive obviously had more focused implications. It seemed the leak needed to be fixed.

He admitted as much in the jilted, rambling sounds that made up his speech pattern. Not knowing what else to do, the small crowd of guards wished him the best of luck, and stood around, using the guise of “assisting” him to get out of much more menial tasks. Mr. P, now strapped in, plunged to the depths below. Never mind that he didn’t have any tools with him; you didn’t question Mr. P. His manic, unorthodox, quick fixes around the swim club were legendary, and if he thought he could fix a small leak at the bottom of a 20-foot pool, with nothing but his hands and ingenuity, then we thought he could as well.

About five minutes had passed before we saw the first sign things weren’t going as planned – that being a small trickle of red liquid bubbling up to the surface. The trickle then turned into a stream.

The next image we saw was Mr P’s rapidly ascending body. Within a mixture of blood and bubbles, he shot out of the water and lunged for the side of the pool. In that moment, we saw the origin of the blood – Mr. P’s nose.

The story came together quick, with a lot of gurgling, nasal sounding rants and made up words accompanying it. Because the tank had been loaned to Mr. P by one of his son’s friends, and because none of us knew the first thing about dealing with oxygen tanks, (or SCUBA or fixing leaks at the bottom of a pool) no one realized that the tank had very little air in it to begin with. And so, due to our SCUBA trips the day before, the tank ran out of oxygen – right at the moment Mr. P began to lift the grate at the bottom of the pool. Stuck in precarious position, and gasping for air, something gave in Mr. P’s head and his nose began to bleed underwater. Yuck.

It would take a lot more than an empty oxygen tank to put Mr. P out of commission (I once saw him play tennis with a colostomy bag strapped to his leg a day after a bit of surgery.) A bloody nose wasn’t going to keep him down. He quickly returned to barking out nonsensical orders to the staff, and we promptly returned to doing nothing.

As for the leak, it is a mystery still to this day. I can only assume some unlicensed welder fixed it at season’s end, after the kids headed back to school and the pools were drained. But closure was a fickle thing when it came to Hidden Hollow. Employees… machines… procedure… everything had a sense of jerry-rigged inertia. Important things that kept the pool in business got done, and no one knew – or cared – how.