Pressing the Panic Button
It’s the end of the school year, end of term work is piling up on your desk and inbox, it makes more sense to count the remainder of the instructional time you have with students in hours rather than days, and you feel like if a panic button magically appeared on your desk, you’d smash it without a moment of hesitation. That’s sort of where I am right now. I’ve been failing miserably in keeping up with the DS106 assignments for this past week (I managed a lowly 3 animated GIFS), the end of year PD plan for technology is falling apart, and I’m chasing the loose ends of all the conferences I’m attending his summer like a neophyte teacher with wide eyes.
That’s not to say I’m not enjoying the experience! But after watching the pilot episode of the Twilight Zone, I’m desperately seeking a panic button for a few hours of escape. Titled under the misnomer of “Where is Everybody?“, the fledgling episode of Rod Serling’s seminal program about the paranormal explores the depths of human sanity with the deprivation of all contact with other beings (sorry, no spoiler alerts for a 60+ year old television program). The premise starts simply enough; a man with no recollection of who he is, or where he came from, awakens to find the world completely devoid of other beings. Tea kettles are left boiling on stoves, jukeboxes playing, and automated recordings are all that’s to be heard when dialing the operator. As the main character attempts to pass off his uncanny solitude with jokes and monologues delivered to himself in the mirror, it becomes painfully obvious that someone, or something is watching his every move. The feeling of being under careful watch, something that all teachers in Michigan can most likely identify with these days, becomes apparent. Before long, our protagonist is reduced to a sobbing heap of a man, finding a crosswalk signal, and desperately mashing the button as though it were some sort of “panic button” capable of ending his torment. It’s a fantastic story, and worth watching if you haven’t experienced the joys of the Twilight Zone. Provided Hulu is still allowing embedded video, you can watch it below.
I’m glad that I’ve jumped into this abbreviated term of DS106. It’s a great release for the stress that builds up at the end of the school year (my own personal “panic button” if you will), and it’s a great chance to explore and mine a lot of really great vintage media from the Twilight Zone; the theme of DS106 this go around is the DS106 Zone, a riff on the black and white series of yesteryear. If you haven’t ever watched the original Twilight Zone episodes, or if it’s just been a nice long time since you caught them on TV, slide over to Hulu and watch a few episodes! I had anticipated watching a few minutes in order to produce the animated GIF at the top of this article for the Twilight Zone animated GIF assignment, but I ended up watching nearly an hour of terrific classic sci-fi and paranormal story telling, a great release for any teacher at the end of the school year, when some of the stress and duties put upon us feels as though some omnipotent being is orchestrating the very demise of our sanity.