"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 15 January 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

The Doctor is IN



interactive experiment about

four people who explore their

problems over the Internet. I

call this technique



[We Are All Liars]

The original "soap operas" were

dramatic comedies that lived up

to their names via the rabid

sponsorship of brands like Ivory

and Sapolio. In the name of

eradication of such grievous

social ills as b.o. and

halitosis, we're inclined to

forgive the hygiene industry for

any collateral psychic damage

such campaigns may have wrought.

On the other hand, it's only

fitting that contemporary

melodrama-peddlers have bypassed

the process of delivering an

audience to Listerine in favor

of creating scenarios around

which ads for Prozac and Xanex

might seem more appropriate.


[Real Cleanliness]

Keenly aware that the formula of

vacuous blondes at the

beachhouse might grow stale to

today's over-assaulted audience,

Songline Studios has maxed its

America Online gold card in the

creation of Ferndale, an

eight-week experiment in what

purports to be a simulation of

therapy but seems more like

Ricki Lake on psycho-steroids.

The cast includes a neglected

parent, a psychotic ex-nun, and

a Kundalini energy-channeling

game designer - and that's not

even including the patients!



The residents' profiles represent

a bet hedged on the more common

strains of modern neurosis.

Danny's a jug-swilling "lead

bass" (?!?) player for Cathode

Rage (who're shown to place just

below Hootie and the Blowfish on

the Billboard albums chart).

Carrie, unlikely enough, matches

her obsession with Cathode Rage

with some dream illnesses

reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm

Street 3. Graciela Lopez, as the

catch-all sicko of the bunch, is

a nobody arrested while munching

on "a discarded bun from a Jack

in the Box wrapper" (reason

enough for detention even had it

been fresh).


[TV Guide]

Most suggestive of all is Donna,

who we're to believe will help

deal with her addiction to

television talk shows by

immersing herself in a non-stop

two month long net talk show.

And Oliver Stone thought he was



[Donna Hilquist Show]

To dispense with questions of

plot, we'd like to predict

suicide, murder, molestation,

and traffic galore for the first

season. But however great it

might be to see Donna switch her

obsession to Carrie's boils,

Carrie make a Selena out of

Danny, and Ruth the Ex-Nun

attempt an addled coup over the

doc, all our speculation is just

grist for the hit mill - the

description of the audience as

"the healing white blood cells

of this virtual body" is

figurative only until "virtual

body" is understood to signify

AOL's bottom line. Not that we

begrudge them that triumph - the

asylum metaphor certainly makes

more sense than the sexpad as a

likely axis for intriguing



[Your Daily Fix]

Of course, it hardly bears

mentioning that real lab rats in

this research study are us - as

participants in email

conversations, website

confessionals, and the massive

schedule of online chats on IRC,

Palace (we won't even touch that

one...), and AOL. Nobody,

including us, can really predict

the depths to which borderline

psychos may glom onto Ferndale

for support, even a confused

mediated-support provided by

make-believe co-patients,

doctors, and Nurse Ratchets. We

can all be sure that it'll prove

harder to sedate

pseudo-Tourette's afflicted

surfers with bit-therapy than it

might with good old-fashioned

tranquilizers, but if Sally

Jesse's track record is any

indication, the presence of

coprolaliacs could be quite the



[Bars of Soap]

If the barrage of publicity (ads

on HotWired, free bars of soap

handed out in South Park) works

for the producers, new seasons

and sociopathic misadventures

would seem guaranteed. We see

new shows, new crossovers, new

net.works, and new mindfucks in

the near future. And who are we

to complain? As long as

delusional hysteria stays in

deep vogue, deep pockets are

guaranteed all around.

courtesy of the Duke of URL