"You know, I had my doubts that this sign would be assembled, given the short deadline, but I think the team can pull together and make it happen," I say to the cameras. "We had a couple minor setbacks when Mark smoked a bunch of pot at lunch and broke a rack of glass tubes, but I think we'll be able to move past those mistakes and still get this project out on time."
"Stay tuned as Ollie assembles yet another neon sign in his minimum-wage production job," the announcer commands as we cut to commercial. Then the screen announces my endorsement of Milwaukee power tools and instructs how you can own your very own DVD copy of this episode.
Thinking of my life as a Discovery Channel program is about the only way I can make it through the day. Cameramen and producers follow me around the shop as I rivet together metal letters, wire electric lights, and glue on plastic faces. The viewing public watches as I smack my thumb with a hammer and cut my hand with a utility knife. My fan base likes it when I cuss, and all they hear are a string of censoring beeps.
Although it is a big boost to my production, it has also made for some uncomfortable moments.
"What the fuck are you doing? I'm not paying you to talk into that mop handle; I'm paying you to clean this shitter out."
"Okay, boss. Sorry," I say as the owner leaves me in the bathroom. "That was 'Macho Man' Randy, owner of American Neon, and he's not happy with Ollie's fiddle-fucking around while he's supposed to be scrubbing toilets," I announce into the wooden microphone with a voice in a much deeper range than I normally use.
As a consummate professional I handle every aspect of the production. Including the graphics and text that would sit beneath my framed image as I work. I'm forever changing and reworking the words to best describe me. First it was "Fabrication Expert." Then I changed it to "Maestro of Manufacturing," and then ultimately to "Creation Maven." But if my life at work were really a TV show, my title would probably be "Dumbass Who's Late Getting Back from Lunch and Talks to Himself a lot."
What I will and won't watch this week
Pee Wee's Playhouse on DVD
My roommate Kip is reliving his inebriated college days by introducing his skeptical wife to this 1980s phenomenon. We force her to sit on the couch, and she grouses in discomfort at every scene. "What the hell is this? I don't get it."
"You're not supposed to get it," Kip and I relay. "It's American television's introduction into gay subculture and stereotype. Look, there's Jambi the dishy queen, Dixie the butch cab driver, and Tito the bodybuilding lifeguard." We let her draw her own conclusions as to Phil Hartman's orientation as lusty seaman Captain Carl.
It's clear Renee still isn't buying it when she asks, "Why is Morpheus dressed like a cowboy?"
I wonder if Larry Fishburne still puts "Cowby Curtis" on his résumé.
Thursday, December 16
Dr. Wayne Dyer: The Power of Intention
PBS 11 8:00 p.m.
I wish PBS would stop playing this hogwash and get back to art, music, and photography profiles. This guy can weave a fine tapestry of anecdotes and pseudo-science together with a touch of good old-fashioned bullshit to pitch his multimedia self-help suite all he wants, but I'm not going for it. Apparently, the "Universe" and "Karma" favor snake oil over sincerity.
Friday, December 17
DSC 35 9:00 p.m.
Here is yet another pipe-dream production. Along the same vein as the other Discovery Channel builder-and-mechanic acts, this program's premise is about taking scrap airplane parts and making upscale furniture. I haven't seen it yet, but the idea of it hits me where I live. If they can use a skilled technician in the art of making abandoned spools into coffee tables, then I may have found my next calling.
Saturday, December 18
On Deadly Ground (1994)
TNT 34 10:00 p.m.
Paunchy and over-the-hill Steven Seagal gets in touch with somebody else's roots as he defends Inuit land against a big oil company. The closing scene has activist Seagal giving a conspiracy speech that fills my mind not with ideas of energy-efficient fuels, but with the suspicion that he has a tinfoil hat under his pony-tailed wig.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
BRAVO 42 5:00 p.m.
Moving into a new place with zero furniture has left me watching a lot of decorating shows. My inflatable mattress on the floor and cardboard-box chairs could use some flair. I like Queer Eye because while others may have an unspoken theme, this one just comes right out and kicks you in the shins with it: gay men equal design taste, you lazy slob.
Sunday, December 19
The Ultimate Poker Challenge
KUSI 9 6:00 p.m.
Anything that handles Deadly Sins, not as undertone but as its foundation, has my attention. I'm a lemming to TV poker in the hopes that I, too, can make a million in quick cash by way of greed, lying, and pride, all in one sitting. Cardinal Virtues just don't play that well in my house.
Monday, December 20
COMEDY 48 9:30 p.m.
South Park is redeeming its good name. Like others, I cry a little at great works of art. Last week when Mr. Garrison's boyfriend, Mr. Slave, shoved Paris Hilton up his ass in a "Whore Off," I got a little misty.
Tuesday, December 21
Father of the Pride
NBC 7 9:00 p.m.
NBC postponed any new episodes of this raunchy 3-D cartoon because they had the bad luck of premiering it the same year Roy Horn was mauled by his own tiger. It looks as if the network executives realized Roy is not going to get any better, and they are not going to get any richer by delaying it further. By all means, carry the hell on.