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"I can't believe you guys brought a TV and VCR," I announced to the group of blue overalls sitting in the torpedo room. "You know what I brought? I brought some books and CDs. I can't believe the chief let you tie it up into the overhead like that, you'd think -- " "SSSSHHH!"

My boots scuffed against the textured, nonskid metal plates that were bolted down to make the floor -- or deck, in naval lingo. Tipping my blue baseball cap back I leaned both elbows behind me and rested against the giant rack made from thick iron that housed the torpedoes. Ross's monkey was sick. Rachel and what's-her-name, Ross's sister, took it to George Clooney and that other guy who plays a doctor on E.R.

Commercial break. A Ford Explorer slides across the open expanse of a desert.

"Hey, Ollie. Where are we?" asked Rich. Rich was new to the boat and a lot of people gave him hell for being a little dumb, but he was a good kid.

"We're in the torpedo room, Rich." I said, giving him a little hell.

"I know that, but where, you know. Weren't you just the quartermaster on watch?"

"Yeah, Rich," I answered. "Let's see. We're three days from Hawaii and a week from Japan. There's nothing around us but water and some tiny islands. We're about a million miles from San Diego. I just felt us dive, we're probably at 250 feet, all-ahead-full, punching holes in the ocean."

"Hey Ollie, how do we get TV down here?"

"We don't, Rich," I said through a short laugh. "One of these dummies taped the last three months of his favorite shows and we're watching those."

"SSSSSHHHH! The show's back on."

Rachel and George Clooney made eyes at each other in a hospital ward, and the audience yelled, "Woo! Woo!"

"Why don't you guys just skip the commercials?" I asked, but nobody answered. We all knew the answer. It was because the commercials were just as much a part of the show as everything else. If you watched the commercials, you were three minutes closer to ending six months at sea.

I took my jacket off and lay down, stuffing my blue coat beneath my head as a pillow. I closed my eyes and slept beneath the blue light of a TV in the belly of a submarine beneath the Pacific, ahead-full to Japan.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, August 25

Army of Darkness (1992)

USA 8:00 a.m.

Hmmmm... Army of Darkness or Today ? Glen Campbell with a chainsaw where his arm should be fighting the evil dead. Or Katie Couric's chipper ass, cooking with Chef Jamie. Tough call.

Wild & Out

MTV 9:00 p.m.

Is this that show where that drunk celebrity chick with the bad boob job takes other drunk celebrity chicks out and gets them more drunk? And there they are. With lumpy plastic balloons taped to their chests. Drunk. Now that's entertainment.

Friday, August 26

Gene Simmons's Rock School

VH1 10:30 p.m.

Gene Simmons, is there anything you won't do for money?

Saturday, August 27

Tina Turner: One Last Time, Live in Concert

KUSI 6:00 p.m.

What the hell? SHE'S 65! I might watch this show just to see if her aging neck can still support that gigantic noggin of hers. She probably needs handlers to hold that pumpkin up.

The Mexican (2001)

ABC 8:00 p.m.

Nobody else thinks Julia Roberts is a skinny horseface? If you met her at a party and she wasn't famous you'd look at her and go, "Pretty nice lookin' chick. Kind of a skinny horseface, but whatever." Good for her. Overcoming those "Hi ho, Silver!" teeth and boney arms to command 30 million bucks a movie. It gives hope to other ugsters.

Sunday, August 28

Eagles Farewell I Tour

NBC 7:00 p.m.

I hate the Eagles. "Hotel California" is the most pompous, pretentious load of frilly shirt and vinegar wine aural pisswater imaginable. And don't tell me to "Take It Easy," stinky. Ditch the leather vest and ponytail. Take a shower and get a job.

Monday, August 29

Quite Frankly With Stephen A. Smith

ESPN2 3:30 p.m.

The dramatic way this guy says, "Quite frankly..." on the commercials makes my neck and arms tense up and my face scowl. Damn, I'm being mean today. Too much coffee. ONWARD!

Tuesday, August 30

Oprah Winfrey

ABC 4:00 p.m.

My dad's name for her is "Okra," mine is "Orca," and Jess's is the simple yet sublime "Otis." Before you get all butt-hurt and indignant on her behalf, think about it. She's a billionaire. Do you think she gives a good goddamn what three poor-ass crackers in California call her? You could make fun of my goofy name all day if I had her money.

Wednesday, August 31

Home Accents

HSN 5:00 p.m.

Dating is tough. I recently walked into a young woman's apartment and was met by a 12-inch, ceramic statue of Tupac Shakur. I thought about bolting out the door and screaming away in my truck, but I sat down to talk to her. I had to know what neighborhood she came from -- how she was raised to think that sort of behavior was okay. I had to know why she was walking along one day and thought, "I need a statue of Tupac for my coffee table."

Thursday, September 1

The Donut Man

EWTN 1:30 p.m.

I don't know what this guy's selling, but he's got me. I'm in.

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