Poking Fun at the Stuff on T.V.
Joel and I are watching the new PBS/Ken Burns project: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The early episodes of the series capture the nativity of our nation’s most sacred parks, Yellowstone and Yosemite. Customarily, Burns tells the birth stories by artfully juxtaposing images of flowing waterfalls, magnificent mountains, intimidating grizzlies and burbling paint pots with quotes from park pioneers (interpreted by the likes of Adam Arkin, John Lithgow, and Tom Hanks) and interviews from park rangers, historians, writers, and ... a John Muir scholar?
During the program the guy who voices the sentiments of John Muir is also interviewed - presumably as himself - and is credited as Lee Stetson, John Muir Scholar. John Muir Scholar??? Not an expert on naturalism, or conservation, or nineteenth-century American history, but an expert on John Muir! What’s so bizarre is that this guy, wearing a flowing white beard, looks just like John Muir, and also seems to have some kind of affected Scottish accent. It’s so bizarre that it makes Joel and I giggle and ask each other, “Who IS this guy?”
Thanks to Google, Joel quickly finds Stetson’s website. Weird, this mimic has a website!? Suddenly, Joel spies the word “actor” and all is made clear. This guy’s to John Muir as Hal Holbrook is (was) to Mark Twain. And what’s more, Joel reads, the website says that Stetson is available to act like John Muir scenic tours, community gatherings, and private parties.
Perfect! This just what we’ve been looking for Adelaide’s Fourth!
I can see it now ... A gathering of about 25 to 30 half-pints (and their parents). Colored balloons. Party favors. Gaily-wrapped gifts. Everyone’s about to dip into a slice of chocolate cake when Joel stands up and announces to an eager band of preschoolers, “Okay, everybody! Adelaide ... Look who’s here, John Muir!” Enter stage right, Lee Stetson, the John Muir scholar!
I wonder how much he charges.