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I was in terrible shape. My spirit was crushed. Not the soul. I don't believe in souls, but the spirit is hard to ignore. For 45 minutes in the morning I had to commute to Carlsbad to sit in a fluorescent box divided into cubicles, six inches from a monitor that flickered blue carcinogenic light, and stare out a window that overlooked a parking lot. When I was done for the day I commuted 45 minutes back home. Traffic was the spirit crusher. Wedged into my truck, my truck wedged into an asphalt rectangle made by the other vehicles that boxed me in, and in turn, I acted as a wedge for every other car.

What am I doing? What am I really doing? I thought.

I inched along the freeway that slashed and sprawled through the landscape of fields and over hills. Would we be better off without all of this? Did the Indians have it right when they conveniently forgot to invent the wheel? I imagined that without the wheel we wouldn't have the cotton gin, trains, automobiles, phones, televisions, and industry.

But I was born nearly blind. I wore glasses until I was 25 when I paid a doctor a thousand dollars to operate a computer that shot a laser into my eyes and made me see. I had an appendectomy when I was 6 -- they scalpeled a poisoned organ out of my body. I wouldn't have survived past childhood if the wheel had never been invented. Is that the trade-off? Smog pouring from tailpipes, pesticides and hormones in the food, ultrasonic waves radiating through us to broadcast the nightly news in exchange for life? Or had these toxic things made me half-blind and given me a sick organ? Would I have survived and lain out in that field after the hunting and gathering had been done? I'm not very good at hunting or gathering. Could I have been, though?

Honk! The car behind me snapped me out of my reveries, and I saw that I impeded progress toward our common goal. I was caught staring at the grass and weeds where my primitive self had relaxed. I hadn't noticed the rectangle of blacktop in front of me that was big enough for my truck. The driver behind urged me to fill the space and act as the wedge, the gear, and the wheel that kept everything moving and provided the impetus for others to move along.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, May 19

King of the Hill

XETV, 5:30 p.m.

The online personals ask which celebrity I resemble most. I thought about it for weeks and couldn't come up with an answer. Jack Black? Close, but he's a little higher strung than me. Brando? No, he was already nuts when he was my age. Then it came to me. In temperament, personality, and looks, I am a grown-up, real-life version of Bobby Hill. I "most resemble" a cartoon. What does that say about me?

Friday, May 20

The Anna Nicole Show

E! channel, 5:00 p.m.

What have we become? Where is God?

Saturday, May 21

Casino (1995)

BRAVO, 8:00 p.m.

I was in the VIP room of a high-dollar nudie bar with two Brazilian strippers who were giving me a lap dance. "What do you do?" one of the brown beauties whispered into my ear. I told them, and they squealed, "We've been on TV!" I leaned back and said, "Of course, you have."

Con

COMEDY, 12:30 a.m.

I was high on ecstasy and needed some air, so I opened the safety window of our hotel room -- you know, that 18'' wide window that lets air in but keeps people from jumping off the 19th-floor balcony. I squeezed out the opening and stood on the ledge and felt the rushing breeze. "Dishonesty!" I yelled out in a drug-righteous rage to downtown Las Vegas. "It's choking us! I may be a drunkard! An addict! And a LOSER! But damnit, I'm honest about it!"

Sunday, May 22

Vegas: All the Answers

TRAVEL, 7:00 p.m.

I was rolling dice with an octogenarian named Hank. He was classic Vegas in a tattered suit, comb-over hair, and glasses that looked like two ashtrays held together by a black plastic frame. Hank asked me where I was from, and I told him California. "Oh, yeah," he said and lit a giant cigar. "What prison in California?"

Science of Star Wars

DISCOVERY, 11:00 p.m.

My new favorite thing is to stand on my balcony in a Darth Vader helmet. When people pass on the street below me, I click a button on the attached chest piece that roars, "You do not know the power of the dark side!" and I wave a red plastic light saber at them.

Monday, May 23

I Love Lucy

TV LAND, 10:30 a.m.

When my dad has had a few beers and the topic is TV, he has a standard rant about I Love Lucy that goes like this: "I Love Lucy sucked when I was a kid. I Love Lucy sucks now. I Love Lucy will always suck. Everyone kisses her ass. Why? I don't know why. She sucks. She was never funny. It wasn't funny back then, and it isn't funny now. It just sucks!" What he's missing in vocabulary he makes up for with zeal.

Tuesday, May 24

Celebrity Deathmatch

MTV, 12:00 a.m.

Kip and I watched a good Godzilla movie last Sunday morning. Godzilla battled two other monsters with the help of a giant robot named Jet Jaguar. We were both hungover, and the nonsensical violence, rubber costumes, and simple plot line were comforting to our throbbing brains.

Wednesday, May 25

Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

AMC, 5:45 p.m.

I was watching Any Which Way You Can the other day and thought, What if that orangutan reached up and yanked Clint Eastwood's head off back in 1978 before he made any "important" movies or won his Oscars?

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