Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thoughts On: Television (and more)

I’m kind of obsessed with television lately. It's funny to me, though, because I’ve always had a strange relationship with tv. You see, ours was a hippy house. We didn’t have a television until the summer of 1984. Until then my only exposure was at my grandmother’s house (preferable to spend all weekend so I could catch both Saturday morning cartoons AND Love Boat/Fantasy Island on Saturday nights) or friends’, although most of my friends also had hippy parents or lived too far out in the country to get anything other than PBS. That summer I was nine and had planned weeks in advance to spend as much time at my grandmother’s as possible watching the Los Angeles Olympics. What I DIDN’T plan on, however, was the following.

Picture this:
It’s dusk. My sisters and I are running around the yard, probably thrilled that it’s finally cool enough to be outside. We’re chasing each other and certainly not watching the ground or else we would have seen the copperhead coming towards the house. Suddenly my memory goes black and white! I feel a sharp, quick, extreme pain next to my Achilles tendon and look down to see only two red dots of blood on my ankle and an orange snake slithering away. My mother said she heard an unearthly scream. I was convinced I was dying. I think it was just the idea that I’d been bitten by a snake that ignited my most dramatic tendencies. I insisted on being carried into the living room and laid on the floor. My mother stood over me, brandishing a paring knife, telling me to CALM DOWN because now she’s going to CUT ME OPEN AND SUCK OUT THE VENOM. It’s true. My sister Kate was a toddler and had no idea that I was dying on the floor. She bounced on my head, clapped her hands and laughed at me, thinking we'd all staged it for her amusement. No one was taking this seriously enough. A SNAKE had just bitten ME. I clung to life. My mother abandoned the knife idea because I wouldn’t hold still enough for her to cut into tender flesh that was now pulsating with snake venom. I should also mention here that my mother was extremely anti-medical establishment at the time. There was no way I was going to the hospital. Maaaybe if my leg started to turn gangrenous, but otherwise I knew I was in for a strict macrobiotic diet and lots of poultices.
Over the next few days I packed my swollen leg with green clay and did alternating hot/cold foot baths and had to be carried to the bathroom. It hurt to move. Most upsetting of all, though, was knowing I was missing the greatest international sports championship that occurs every four years (I hadn’t yet discovered the World Cup). Out of pure sympathy (or guilt), my mother allowed my grandparents to bring over a 13" black and white portable television. When I moved the rabbit ears just right I could make out the grainy figures of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. It was the Olympics of Mary Lou Retton’s perfect 10 vault. And I saw the whole thing, my hard, swollen, purple leg propped up on a pillow and a bowl of miso soup at my side.
Of course it was just a slippery slope after that. You always crave what you were denied in childhood. A color tv, then bigger and bigger. Higher and higher tiers of cable! I slid all the way down to full digital cable with the premium channels. That was back in ‘02. It was a rough year.

I'm thinking about cable again but it scares me; I don't know if I trust myself with it. I might start forfeiting sleep just so I can watch C-SPAN at 3am (where they hide all the good stuff). And there's all the fucking ADS (unless I got TiVo....hmmmm). That's what I hate the most - the commercials! I’m sensitive to advertising. So I love DVDs, which means I’m always watching shows a season or more behind. I have yet to get into Lost or Grey’s Anatomy or Deadwood, but don’t worry because I will, if I have time. I just discovered Weeds. It’s about 90% incredible and 10% stupid. The acting is really good and the storylines are usually hilarious and intriguing. I have some issues with the racial stereotypes and some of the more outlandish plot developments, but’s meant to be a subversive comedy. Oh, and Weeds uses kid actors who act like real kids....that's nearly impossible to find.

Any recommendations for my next obsession?

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