I am Genghis Khan.
Bill Bryson, in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything, explains how lineage works by starting out: “If your two parents hadn’t bonded just when they did — possibly to the second, possibly to the nanosecond — you wouldn’t be here.” He continues on to count your grandparents, their parents, their parents, their parents, and so forth until he reaches a surprising conclusion: “If you go back 64 generations, to the time of the Romans, the number of people on whose cooperative efforts your eventual existence depends has risen to approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, which is several thousand times the total number of people who have ever lived.
“Clearly something has gone wrong with our math here. The answer, it may interest you to learn, is that your line is not pure.”
Yes, we are talking about that beloved pastime of families both royal and trailer park but shunned by most everyone else. Although, it’s not quite as bold as the way princes and princesses and gap-toothed yokels do it. Given quite a few generations of removal, a distant cousin of your father’s commingled with someone in your mother’s lineage. It seems that, just as in a real forest, the brushy breadth of our family trees interlace.
Which leads us to an exciting discovery. Spin the table of time around, tracing accurately through heritage, and we’re all related to great names in history. (It doesn’t work well with people of recent times; John F. Kennedy, the creator of The Transformers, and I are not directly descended of the same pilgrims. You have to go back a little further.)
I am Genghis Khan.
In 1206, Genghis Khan united the nomadic tribes of Mongolia and through them gathered armies, then he began a campaign that finished with the largest empire in history. His domain eventually stretched from Japan, through Russia and into parts of Hungary and Austria. These were nomads! The Europeans were building cathedrals and castles from stone, paving roads, milling grain, and establishing universities, when a man who lived in a tent and had never seen something so technologically advanced as a window decided to rule the world. And he got damn close.
And in the afternoon, on the trailing end of a long day of riding a bicycle and driving little green army men around in the bed of a Tonka truck, I, Genghis Khan, like to cross my feet on the coffee table and watch cartoons involving talking dogs.
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, December 4
Larry the Cable Guy’s Christmas Spectacular
VH1 8:00 p.m.
Larry the Cable Guy needs to meet Dennis Miller in a Pocatello Denny’s so they can carve out who gets the stupid audience and who gets the stupid audience who thinks they’re smart. “Stay away from references to the War of 1812 and I promise not to do trailer park jokes. Now that that’s settled, let’s get some sleeves on you because you’re dropping arm hair in my pigs-in-a-blanket, okay?”
World’s Ugliest Dog Competition
Animal Planet 9:00 p.m.
When I eat french fries, I eat them so fast that I bite my fingers. I also enjoy kicking my feet out in front of me and sliding my rear end across the rug. As humans go, I’m only slightly below average on the looks scale. As dogs go, I might have a shot at winning the whole shebang here.
Friday, December 5
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
CW 8:00 p.m.
If ever anyone deserved to have the holy pie slapped out of him, it’s the man who wrote this song. If he ever sticks his face out of whatever hovel he’s crawled into, I’ll be there. SLAP! PIE!
Saturday, December 6
Miracle on 34th Street
MyTV 8:00 p.m.
Thirty-two years I’ve made it without watching this or It’s a Wonderful Life. My roommate has threatened to snare me, tie me up, and force me to watch both. This Saturday I’m going to come home and there’s going to be a box propped up by a stick over a taco and a new X-Men comic book. From the other room I’ll hear the yank of a taut string and a “Gotcha!”
Exterminador 2: El DÌa del Juicio Final (1991)
Telemundo 9:00 p.m.
I wonder if the term “volveré” (translation: I shall return) has been overused by every bad Spanish-speaking standup comic or if that’s just how we do it.
Sunday, December 7
PBS 8:00 p.m.
There’s just so much pressure to like pandas these days. I can’t do it. I can’t. Until four teenaged ones mutate and develop ninja skills, pandas will always be at least second banana.
Monday, December 8
A Charlie Brown Christmas
ABC 8:00 p.m.
What they don’t tell you is that Linus is Jewish and insanely jealous of Charlie Brown’s fame. He plays along with the Christmas thing to fit in, but at night, he puts on a yarmulke, lights his menorah, and scrawls in crayon across his bedroom door, “It’s a Linus Hanukkah, You Little Bald Dummy!”
Tuesday, December 9
Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel
MTV 9:00 p.m.
Contrary to the title, this is not a booze- or drug-free event. Rehab is some smartass title suggesting that the best way to kill a hangover is to start drinking again. My only problem is that it’s held at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel. I’ll drink early in the morning, but I don’t want to look at Tito Jackson’s hairnet while I do it.
Wednesday, December 10
UFC Fight for the Troops
Spike 7:00 p.m.
If there is any justice in this universe, somehow someone would combine UFC fighting with My Super Sweet 16. “What do you want for your birthday, you rich little snot? Doesn’t matter. You know what you’re getting? A knuckle sandwich and a size 11 to your ass! Yeehaw!”
Little Spirit: Christmas in New York
NBC 8:00 p.m.
Oh, God, how I’ll try. I’ll try. This entire holiday season I will hold back, grit my teeth, clench my fists, and bear down, but at a very inappropriate moment I will lose my internal battle and yell, “HA HA HA HA! YOU SAID, ‘NUTCRACKER!’”