TV MADE ME A CRYPTOZOOLOGIST

When I was a kid, I wanted- more than anything else- to see something supernatural. A ghost, Bigfoot, a UFO. Something.  At night, I would scan the skies. When camping, I would listen keenly for something large lumbering through the Sierra Nevada.

I blame TV.

Every Friday night, on KTVU Channel 2- which at the time was what we used to call an independent station- there was a show called Creature Features, hosted by Bob Wilkins. Creature Features was a double feature of horror movies hosted by Mr. Wilkins; who always provided a mix of wry commentary and cool info, things to notice in whatever movie we watched, and so on. I saw all the classic horror flicks, along with lots of not-so-classic ones. A typical evening's fare would be Frankenstein, followed by House of Frankenstein. Or Them! followed by Tarantula. Usually there would be a thematic link between the two. The big goal when watching Creature Features was to stay awake to the end of the second feature, which would usually end at around two in the morning. Not always easy to do, but I tried. This show was the must-have-on-in-the-background for any sleepover or slumber party. By third grade, I was well versed in vampires, mad scientists, demons, and all things that go bump boom bang in the night.

One movie that caught my imagination was The Legend of Boggy Creek- a sort of documentary about a sort of Bigfoot that was sort of scary. But the idea of an unexplained beast roaming the land was beyond exhilarating to me. I remember, clear as a bell, discussing the film with my friend Noel during recess at Strawberry Park Elementary. There was no doubt in either of our minds that the beast existed- that was a given. I think the scene that both amused and terrified us the most was the one where the monster was trying to break into this one guy's house while he was sitting on the toilet. How many films are there that are educational, frightening, and hilarious? Truly, this was one for the ages- a film destined to be spoken of with reverence. All I wanted to do after watching that flick was get myself a movie camera and a van and get myself to Boggy Creek to investigate this thing. Being around nine, this wasn't plausible, so I had to content myself with research at the local branch of the public library- a small building nestled between an ancient barn that had been abandoned for as long as anyone could remember, and a peach orchard. It had that funky architecture style so common in the early 1970's- a hybrid of ugly and Frank Lloyd Wright. It also had a whole set of shelves with books dedicated to the paranormal. I remember reading most of The Mothman Prophecies there one afternoon. There were lots of other books, with photos of ghosts, UFO's, and the Loch Ness Monster. I loved them all.

And then there was a documentary on regular tv, hosted by Rod Serling. It was called Monsters! Mysteries or Myths? This was the first "serious" documentary about aliens, Bigfoot, and Nessie every shown on national tv. And it was a huge hit, and paved the way for such shows as In Search of..., which in turn led us to such fare as Monsterquest and, my current favorite, Finding Bigfoot.

I love Bigfoot. I love Sasquatch, Yeti, the Ohio Grassman. Whatever you want to call it. I love the unknown, the unexplained, and things from somewhere else. My latest script is a pilot for a tv series about an unlikely pair who investigate the great mysteries of America. What a shock.

I even made a mockumentary, highly inspired by Finding Bigfoot, while in Wisconsin. Here are the results. (my beautiful co-star is my wife Lisa)

 
 
But wait, there's more:
 
 


And that's about all I have to say about that.

For the moment.

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