It measured 4.5, which means it felt as if someone had bumped into your bed, or your neighbor had his subwoofer turned way up and was listening to some serious bass.
However, this is LA, and everything here has to have some over-the-top PR and hype. Seriously. I mean, minor rainfall is breathlessly reported on the news with headlines like “Stormwatch” and other apocalyptic monikers. So, when the gods of the underworld start rumbling and tossing the surface dwellers around, the local media breaks out with some good old fashioned Wagnerian Gotterdammerung stuff. The TV news is filled with images of frightened people describing their terror (“it was so sudden!”) or steps they took to ensure their safety (“we all jumped out of bed and stood under doorways”) and there is the inevitable yokel declaring they are “leaving LA tomorrow.”
Anyway, sure as night follows day and Bush will blatantly and openly lie next time he speaks, after the sensationalist coverage the news team will turn to their more sober “analyst” to put the quake into perspective. Which means the appearance of my most current crush, Dr. Kate Hutton, seismologist over at Cal Tech.
I love love love love me some Dr. Kate. That unapologetic dyke with the premature grey hair and pointy-headed intellectual glasses warms me right up. She is known here as the Earthquake Lady because for close to 20 years, she has been the one to step in front of the cameras and throngs of terrified idiot reporters to tell them that we just had an earthquake.What I really dig about Dr. Kate is her open and complete revulsion at having to deal with the simpering press. She despises them their stupidity, simplicity, and plasticity. She answers their repetitive and juvenile questions honestly, completely, and concisely, but with a sneer and barely concealed contempt. And with good reason. See, Dr. Kate is an educated, intelligent woman. The press are a pack of telegenic mannequins who would collectively make Ted Baxter look like a Nobel Laureate.
During these conferences the press shouts questions in a state of hysteria, asking the same thing every single time: “Was this the Big One?”
Was this the Big One.
And our intrepid Dr. Kate will look at the reporter with an expression somewhere between pity and disgust, and, as if trying to explain quantum physics to a hillbilly, will calmly say that this, in fact, was not the Big One. She will then explain how the Richter scale works (it’s a logarithmic scale, where every increase in a point equals a tenfold increase in strength), how quakes are measured, basic tectonic theory, and so on. She will use simple words, sort of like someone trying to explain global climate change or Mideast politics to a rabid conservative, and gently calm the reporters who by now are ready to spread Fear and Panic throughout the populace.
Her press conferences serve as sharp relief to those of our Idiot Boy-King: Dr. Kate uses technical and complex words as a matter of everyday discourse. They flow effortlessly and when she speaks, she just assumes you can follow. When Prince George uses complex words they stick awkwardly in his mouth, like he’s trying to eat the rind of a pineapple, and when he says them it’s with a tone of smug undeserved pride commonly associated with a four-year old trying to show off to a mathematician that he can subtract four from seven.
Her mere appearance on the tube will serve as a balm for the terror-stricken rubes, because if Dr. Kate says something, we know it’s true and things are Good. Afterwards, the news anchor (now dripping with relief) will incorrectly summarize what Dr. Kate just told us. That this minor little shake was not the Big One; that quakes of various size happen all along the many faults throughout California every day; and that it was not the high-sign for the Four Horsemen or The Beast to come and feast on our eternal souls.
And Dr. Kate can go back to Cal Tech and do her research and teach. Until the next minor tembler, when once again she will have to come before the cameras and tell the press everything is okay while secretly wishing they would all fall into a very deep and very dark hole, never to be seen again.
I’m with you, Dr. Kate. You rock!