I just saw something that totally blew me away. It seems that there's a group of folks who call themselves Improv Everywhere who execute "missions" that they say: "... cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places."
The particular mission to which I refer occurred on February 24, 2007 (check This Amazing Video). Grand Central Station in New York City is said to be the world's largest train station. On the day in question, Improv Everywhere had 207 "agents" mingling with the crowd throughout the station.
At the exact-same-second, all of these "agents" suddenly froze-in-place at whatever they were doing. They didn't move a muscle for exactly five minutes, after which they all carried on walking and talking as if nothing had happened.
Think about this for a moment. If you were walking through a crowded station and you saw just one person in a stiff, immobile condition, you may think: "Just another weirdo," or "There's someone with serious issues". But if you were to look around and see hundreds of people from all walks of life – different ages, different races, different social status (at least, as reflected by the type and quality of the clothes they were wearing) – scattered throughout the station, all "frozen-in-time", what would YOU think?
Now, I read a LOT of science fiction. Having seen this video, I'm trying to imagine all of the scenarios that might have flooded through my mind. Could this be some strange virus (think the recent "I am Legend" book and film)? Or might it be some sort of paralyzing ray from a spaceship orbiting the earth (like that Star Trek episode A Piece Of The Action where Kirk and Spock beam down to a city on a far-away planet whose civilization is modeled on the gangsters in 1920 Chicargo)?
I know it sounds silly, but when you are suddenly faced by something huge like this that you can't explain, I'm sure your mind could play funny tricks on you. For example...
Do you remember the original 1960s UK science fiction TV program Dr. Who? One of the best "monsters" for the time was the Daleks. As a kid I was terrified of these, but adults always said that they were "silly". Well, my mom told me a story ... it seems that she was working down in London sometime around the early days of Dr. Who. Apparently she was on a bus on a bridge crossing the River Thames (you should never say the "Thames River"), when the bus suddenly stopped. People looked out of the windows and saw a bunch of Daleks approaching (the BBC was filming a new episode of Dr. Who and they wanted to get some "authentic crowd scenes" without paying too much for a lot of actors). My mom said that all of the adults immediately exited the bus and ran the other way as fast as they could.
I tell you, I really, REALLY wish I could have been at the Frozen Grand Central mission. Why not take a look at the above video and ponder it and then tell me what you think you would have thought and/or done if you'd been there. And there's more, because Improv Everywhere have actually performed more than 70 Missions. As soon as I get a free moment I'm going to take a look at all of them.
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.