Marvin Folkertsma
Strange things can happen when you turn on TV without checking the listings first. Thus, my casual clicking on recently initially spawned charcoal scenes against a background of menacing music, deep, thumping rhythms that pounded into those caverns of imagination where echoes of fear and foreboding dwell. It seems that one of the principal characters was on a mission to foil the evil machinations of those in charge of a secret facility, one created for the purpose of treating incorrigibles from hurting themselves or others, mostly others. An intriguing plot unfolded, revealing spooky, Poe-like scenes filled with lugubrious dwelling places, terrifying rains, sinister caretakers, evil doctors with soul-chilling smiles, and a main character consumed by his fantasy quest. Since I was looking for the vice-presidential debate, my first reaction was that this thing is a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that instead I was watching Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” which happened to be showing at the same time.

Switched channels again. The result was just as riveting, more so, in fact. A brilliant performer was on stage, dazzling his opposition, overwhelming observers with his world-class talent. Indeed, those who opposed him seemed helpless against an obviously superior display of unrivaled professionalism. Seems I was wrong again. This was Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander putting down the Oakland Athletics in order.

Let’s see, that blasted debate had to be on one of these channels. The next stop revealed a crazed character with his arms thrown upward, his head pitched back, maniacal laughter pumping from his throat—which confused me a bit. Why would the networks show a scene with the Joker from a Batman rerun on the evening the veep candidates were supposed to debate? Talk about media bias. Enough of this; I gave up.

Tried again, the following Tuesday, October 16, this time for the presidential debate. A brilliant performer was on stage, dazzling his opposition, overwhelming observers with … wait a minute, that was last week. This week, same performance, different set of victims: the New York Yankees.

Ah yes, finally found what I was looking for, a confrontation that ended up being a claw-your-eyes-out, in-your-face, your mama-wears-combat-boots sort of brawl. It seems one of the participants was taking on two adversaries, one of whom seemed quite animated, while the other one sat down and pretended to call balls and strikes. Still couldn’t get Verlander out of my mind, I guess. Nor “Shutter Island.”

Marvin Folkertsma

Dr. Marvin Folkertsma is a professor of political science and fellow for American studies with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The author of several books, his latest release is a high-energy novel titled "The Thirteenth Commandment."