“We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friends: Future events such as these will affect you in the future.” Criswell, in the intro to Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.
The prognosticator known as Criswell had many appealing qualities. Foremost, Criswell had a firm grasp of the obvious, as the above soliloquy shows. Further, he had a gift for making the most banal observation seem profound. He understood that a shock of hair, dramatic lighting, a nice suit coupled with a sweet bow tie, and a ramped-up delivery can dress up any otherwise-lightweight package of oratory.
And Criswell embraced the future. Turns out, he was ahead of his time.
In recent years, the weather divisions of local TV news departments have presented something called “the Futurecast.” It appears to consist of animated graphics that show still-developing weather systems zipping through weather maps in the future.
As made-up words go, the futurecast appears to be a close cousin to the forecast, which is an actual English word and basically says the same thing with one less syllable. However, the forecast has been a tool used by weather predictors predating Poor Richard’s Almanac. The futurecast has more of an attention-grabbing crystal-ball quality, something so aptly grasped by Criswell.
If presented with the TV weather tool called “Vipir HD,” Criswell would undoubtedly be puzzled. At first blush, the Vipir HD appears to derive from a high-definition snake. The viper’s legless, low-to-the-ground quality makes it an appealingly creepy image. But its inability to see beyond the foliage seems to make it inconsistent with predicting the future. Vulture HD might have made more sense.
Criswell could only wish that he had predicted the rise of the Wizometer, another attention-getting tool now in use by WXIA’s weather division. The Wizometer quantifies the audience’s interest in the future (for that is where we will spend the rest of our lives), and assigns future events such as these a numeric quantity. Perfection is given an eleven, of course. The audience can then gauge the numeral against their own experience and hold the forecaster accountable, ‘punishing the guilty and rewarding the innocent.’ I have no doubt Criswell would endorse the Wizometer.
Just so happens, Criswell is one of the guys responsible for those predictions of the world’s end on the morning of the winter solstice in December 2012. He also predicted that a ray from outer space would destroy Denver, and Mae West would be elected president. Like any forecaster, Criswell was flawed.
But what a delivery. God help us — in the future.