Harlan Ellison's Watching...

Harlan Ellisonr Now, I want you to understand something. This is not a Top Ten List. I hate, I hate those stupid Top Ten Lists. I really do. Letterman and his Top Ten Lists are just so banal. But, it turns out I got 10. I don't know why I got 10, but I got 10. Now what these are the stupidest things in movies that they keep doing over and over again. And they just rank me. I get crazed when I see them. And they probably seem inconsequential to you, but they are the same kind of small inconsequentials that every time you see one of yours in a movie you want to jump up and tear the throat out of the stupid director or the ah, ah, the s screen writer who didn't understand it.

The first one is the mis-pronunciation of the word "Neanderthal". The word, folks, is not "Neanderttthhhal", it's not "Neanderttthhhal" at all. It's "NeanderTALL". Take a movie like Iceman. Great, great Science Fiction movie. And here are these, here are these anthropologists who have discovered a primitive man frozen in the ice. And these are scientists and these are people who work with anthropology and they pull him out and they keep pronouncing it, "Neanderttthhhall". No, that's wrong. That's the first one.

The second one is the phrase, "I could care less". No, you moron, "I could care less" means you could care more. There's a reason the phrase is "I couldn't care less". That is the outer extreme of your caring. You couldn't care anymore than that. To reverse it may sound clever to somebody, but it is boneheaded and I urge you, next time you see it in a movie hoot and holler and scream.

This one is my wife's favorite. The guy calls at 3 O'Clock in the morning. The private detective is wakened up. He picks up the telephone. The guy says,

"I have the information you wanted. I can tell you who the murderer is".

"Well, tell me".

"No, no. Not now, not over the phone. Meet me in the warehouse at 4:15."

Now, if the private detective had the brains of a centipede he would say, "No way, Jack! I'm in bed, I'm down for the night. I'm not getting up, getting all dressed, going out in the rain to go to some stupid warehouse at 4:15 in the morning, because when I get there you'll be dead!" Let me tell you something. Anybody can talk on a telephone at anytime. When they do, you must understand that it is a bad director, bad producer, bad writer's idea of how to build suspense. Instead of just doing the conversation they always make you go somewhere else, where you know the informant will be found - CRRRRCH! - dead. Ok, that's that one.

Now let me see, oh yes, I love this one. The name is not... of Robert Louis Stevenson's villain is not "Dr. Jeck-yll". It's "Dr. JAKE-yll". "JAKE-yll", "Dr. JAKE-yll and Mr. Hyde" or "Mr. JAKE-yll and Dr. Hyde," whichever you want, but it's not Jeck-yll, it's "JAKE-yll"

Now, let's see what else have I got here... oh, I love this one. Guy says to him, "You gonna walk away from me just like that?" The other one goes, "Just like that". If I hear "Just like that" one more time I will put my fingers in the nose of the speaker and yank it off his face. Ok?

The next one is, uh, leaving the lights on. Now, explain this to me. Explain what director thought this was clever. The car pulls up in the camera, right into the head of the shot. It's late at night and the lights are on. The guy gets out of the car, leaves the lights on, discovers the body, goes into the house, does whatever he's gonna do, and leaves the lights on! No. You leave your lights on, your battery runs down and when you have to escape from the Blob monster you ain't gonna be able to start your car. Therefore, you don't leave the lights on. An adjunct to this is, and I just saw this the other night on a new cop show called High Incident. David Keith pulls up in front of his house, in Los Angeles, the window is open and his arm is sticking out when he pulls up. He pulls up, leaves the door unlocked, leaves the window down and he goes into his house. He picks up his kid and he goes into his house. Apparently, he's in for the night. Now, I don't know where you live, Keokuk or maybe East We-Wah Wisconsin, you can leave your car open on the street all night, but in Los Angeles; you do that, what you're going to find in the morning is an empty driveway. This is just stupid film making.

What else have I got here? Oh yeah. The one... somebody's in the shower and the shower is running and somebody talks to them from the next room and they answer them like they can hear them. Try it folks. You can not hear anything when you are in the shower. You can't hear what someone is saying, maybe you can hear a voice, but you can not make out what they are saying.

The last one for you, and this is a beauty because most of you do it too. It is wrong to say, "Have your cake and eat it too". Oh, that's real easy. Here is my cake. I have it. I have eaten it too. What you can not do is eat your cake and have it too. Would you get it right? Would you get it right?

Thank you. Thank you for your kind attention.

From Sci-Fi Buzz, episode 139

Publishing Rights to 'Harlan Ellison's Watching' copyright 1996 the Killimanjaro Corporation.