I AM TRYING TO WATCH TELEVISION
Yes, that is what I am doing. I am going to watch a little bit of everything and talk to you about what I am watching. It will be the first time anyone has ever done this in the history of television, people, typing, and the world wide web. Perhaps I’ll also express an opinion about something, or reference a seldom-considered pop culture figure of the past. Ham is gross, but Sonny Shroyer rules. There, I did it.
My wife has fallen asleep but I am not tired because I drank coffee after 5 PM so I am going to have to stay up all night watching TV and then tomorrow my brains and body won’t work and I’ll try to drive a can opener to work and if I ever get there I’ll give people unhelpful advice on the phone, such as “Self-administered medical treatment is generally the way to go” and “Call your insurance company – they’re there to help!”. And every now and then I’ll yell “OH NO!” in a really forlorn and traumatized voice, but when people come over to see what’s wrong I’ll act like nothing happened. That might help pass the time.
I’m watching…what AM I watching?…”Cities of the Underworld” on The History Channel. This episode is about “Viking Underground”. I’m only watching it because it’s HD and outside looks good in HD. Right now are commercials. You know what I hate are car commercials. They’re boring, they waste my time, and they anger me by focussing on a product that I will never be able to afford. Commercials are very handy in that they help me to realize how far behind I am in comparison to others. Now it’s a commercial for orange juice. A full year, if not more, may have passed since I last had a glass of orange juice. I bet if someone was able to give me a list of all the once-commonplace foods that I haven’t eaten in well over a year, it would sadden and disgust me to read it.
Okay, this should help me (and, more than likely, you) get to sleep. I’ll go through every channel and tell you something about what is on at the given moment.
FOOD NETWORK HD: ACE OF CAKES
People are making very fancy cakes. I’m glad we live in an era where cake can have a show. Whenever I see the commercial for this show, I think of Motorhead singing “Ace of Cakes” instead of “Ace of Spades”, and I often sing it aloud for my wife when I go past it on the cable guide. To her discredit, she usually laughs. These cakes look nice and all but can’t I just eat ’em?
HGTV HD: HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL
What’s this all about? I wish “Spice Up My Kitchen” was on instead. That sounds like a good television program to watch. I already don’t feel like doing this anymore. There are way too many commercials and they are all for things I want, like Jimmy Dean sausage croissants and an electronic learning game for kids that looks really relaxing to play. This show is just people looking for houses! Can I make a show about me looking for stuff? Will HGTV HD agree to produce “Toenail Clippers Hunters in an Apartment”? Ask them for me, would ya? I’m too scared ta!
All right, I’m gonna check out the radio channels. I like to flip around on these sometimes. Okay, let’s see if I can guess what’s playing on the ’80s channel before I turn to it. Let’s see…I’m concentrating really hard to attune my brain to the 80’s channel…okay, I’m really feeling “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys. Let’s check it out…it’s “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” by Information Society. Well, that’s not so far off! I feel pretty good about that. And I like this song. I want to know! What yaw thing-king! There ah some things you can’t hide! Man, this used to be on the radio all the time on Fox 104.7. I miss 1988-1990 era Fox. That was really the only time in my life where I was actively listening to the radio and fully abreast of what music was popular (at least in central Maine). Chuck Foster and Kid Kelly and CJ Lawrence. I remember once I called in to “Make it Or Break It” and told CJ Lawrence that “Scandalous” by Prince off the Batman soundtrack sounded like “Lloyd Bridges on Quaaludes” and he laughed and I was so proud of myself. Furthermore, that song was not a hit so I obviously had a good deal of pop chart savvy in addition to a way with a seen-it-all bon mot.
“Jump” by Van Halen is now on. I don’t know that there has ever been an instance in my life when I have switched stations upon hearing the opening synthesizer chords to “Jump” by Van Halen. I have never once thought “Oh yuck, ‘Jump’!”. And now the song is over and I am unhappy once again. Oh wait, I’m happy again: “She’s Like the Wind” by Patrick Swayze has taken its place. Well met, MusicChoice! I remember as youths we used to sing “She Broke the Wind” to this and found that to be the laff riot of the century, if not all the years there have ever been put together. Actually, the idea of Patrick Swayze singing an otherwise earnest and tender ballad about a gaseous woman is kind of funny, especially if the rest of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack was normal and did not involve farting. I still have not seen “Dirty Dancing”, although I think they played it on the bus on our senior class trip. That and “Iron Eagle”. As senior class trips go, ours was clearly choice. She’s laaaaahk tha wiiiiind! Jussa foooo to baleeeeve! Good to know this song is still as horrible as it ever was. I wonder how Patrick Swayze’s cancerous pancreas is doing. I hope good. He should release a new solo album called “Aah! My Pancreas!”. I don’t know the song that’s on right now and I’m not interested in adding anything new to my mental library tonight so let’s see what’s on the ’90s station…ooh, let me try to guess again! Hmmm….”I Don’t Want to Fall in Love” by Jane Child. Now to actually go to the channel…”Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” by Paula Cole. Well, it’s a female solo artist at least, so again I was on the right track. If people mention this song at all it’s generally with a certain amount of distaste, but I dunno, I typically enjoy it when I hear it in Rite Aid. It’s certainly an acceptable enough accompaniment to picking out deodorant.
Oh no, it’s Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Get out of here, Marky Mark! And take your Funky Bunch with you! “Funky Bunch”! They’re a bunch all right! A buncha losers! Time to check out the ’70s channel, and I am going to say that “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray is playing, although I hope it is not because I don’t really feel like hearing it…nope, it’s “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer. Not even close. I’m losing my touch. Olivia Newton-John is now singing something with a truly grating steel guitar part in the background. MusicChoice channels are funny because they only have 2 or 3 pictures of each artist and they alternate between them periodically while the song plays. The pictures are never flattering, like they’ll show Sting with his eyes half closed and mouth partially ajar, totally not ready for the guy to take his picture, or Lionel Richie wiping his ass or something. “Baby Come Back” is now on and I’m okay with it. I usually end up settling on the 70’s channel. There’s always an earnest desire to entertain within the songs that I find supremely comforting. The guys in the band who sang this song are, by the way, profoundly unattractive. Especially when compared to handsome, handsome me. “Baby Come Back/You can blame it all on me/I was wrong/And I just can’t live without you”. This is wrenching! Thank God it’s over. Oh dear, now the Bee Gees are twittering at me. These guys wig me out. Who are they to decide whether I should be dancing or not? They sound like crazy alien piglets. Back to ’80s. “One Step Closer to You” by Gavin Christopher…never heard of it, not enjoying it. And it’s waking up my wife, although she’s been stirring perceptively ever since Marky Mark came on. Consarn that Marky Mark!
How about Lite Hits, that should have something compelling…ah, it’s “Can I Touch You…There?” by Michael Bolton. I’ve actually never heard this song but I’ve chuckled at it’s title many times in the past while perusing the Columbia House catalog and trying to decide what CDs I want to purchase by signing up for an account under my cat’s name. I’m trying to think if there was any way Michael Bolton could have been crasser and less appealing in titling that song. “Can I Grab Your…Bug?” “Can I Stick My Finger Up Your…Butt?” Soulful as always, Mr. Bolton. Soulful as always. Soulful. As. Always. Soulful as always.
I had to switch rooms because Michael Bolton is seriously disrupting my wife’s sleep. It’s probably causing her to have not especially enjoyable dreams, in which Michael Bolton tentatively asks you to list which of your body parts you will allow him to touch. Now that I think about it, knowing Michael Bolton, he’s probably just talking about your heart. Which is somehow way grosser. God bless you, Michael Bolton. By the way, “bless” now means “condemn to Hell”. I changed it. That’s ridiculous, I don’t want Michael Bolton to go to Hell! What’s the point of wishing that? All he ever wanted to do was make ladies feel sexy. And produce low budget softball instructional videocassettes.
See? You see that? That thing is real! I used to OWN that! I bought that thing! That’s right!
True story: I went to Goodwill one day and I saw this tape on the shelf and I thought “Well, that looks like a good thing to add to the pile of other things I have in my home.” I picked it up. I took it to the counter, most likely along with other things I in no way needed or would ever use again. I placed it on the counter to which I had taken it.
I greeted the cashier.
“Greetings, cashier,” I said.
She got right down to business. “Before you can take these items out of this building, you have to give me some papers and metals, symbolic of a bunch of things you did last week that were no fun.”
“May I give you a plastic rectangle with rounded corners and numbers emblazoned on it instead?” I asked.
“Sure, I’ll drag it through a notch cut into this electronic transmitter…”
“…and I’ll type a secret 4-digit code into this keypad.”
“Hold on, you can’t do that until I impatiently instruct you to do so.”
“Oh, okay, sorry.”
“Okay, go ahead, be quick about it.”
“All right, I entered the secret number, now what?”
“Now we stand here and wish this were happening faster.”
“That will be fine. In order to avoid eye contact, I’ll pretend to be interested in this stack of Uncle Henry’s while this is…hey, it says ‘approved’ on this little screen. Does that mean…”
“And here is a tiny, vaguely itemized list of reasons why you no longer have any money. You may wad this up and wedge it into the pocket in your wallet that holds all your rarely-accessed membership cards and business cards from weird people you’ve met at bars, or perhaps you’d rather nonchalantly toss it into the backseat of your car with all the empty McDonald’s cups.”
“So you’re saying that I…”
“Yes, sir. You are now the proud owner of ‘Michael Bolton’s Winning Softball’.”
“CITIZENS OF MAINE, I IMPLORE THEE: LOOK UPON THE FACE OF GOD!”
“Have a good one.”
I honestly don’t remember a frame of the Michael Bolton softball tape, though I no doubt viewed it in it’s entirety. It’s funny how when you buy something solely due to the fact that it looks like it’s going to suck in a really hilarious way, it usually just ends up sucking in a you-wasted-your-money kind of way. And then you work out in your head how long you had to stay at work to be able to fund that Michael Bolton sports instructional videocassette, and you just start shaking your head incredulously, and before you know it tiny damp circles begin forming, with barely perceptible taps, on your khakis, and are you crying? Are you crying right now, you ridiculous baby? Crying because you see how you truly don’t care, you truly don’t, you truly don’t? That’s why you wake up every morning and spend the majority of your day in a dull building with people you hate doing something you don’t care about? To buy Michael Bolton softball tapes? Unreal. Unfathomable. Unimaginable. Unbelievable. Bewildering. Shocking. Disgusting. Sad, is what it is. Sad. Sad! You brought that Michael Bolton (Jesus! Michael Bolton!!!) videotape into your home, with a smile on your face and a song in your heart, genuinely in your brain believing it to be a good and smart and funny and worthwhile thing to do, yet you do no grocery shopping, and you could pull a groin muscle attempting to step over your bills were you to stack them for whatever reason. But who has the time – who, sir, has the time – to stock up on sundries or compensate debtees when there are ineptly produced softball instructional videos hosted by roundly despised early ’90s soft-hitsman Michael Bolton to purchase? That’s the question we have to ask ourselves in this day and age.
Well, anyway, T.G.I.F., right? I don’t see sleep happening but I gotta at least give it the old college try. I guess I’ll go lie down and try to think about Enya or something. Night!