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In Esztergom, Hungary, I saw for the first time in my life a dioramic representation of how human beings have managed to overthrow nature and evolution and how we’ve started to suck.

Inside Esztergom Castle is a boring museum of stuff that was found, reclaimed, restored — you know, all the little bits of metal and chipped vases and junk. Well, in one room of the museum, which is the interior of the castle, you can stand on a thick glass floor. Beneath your feet are these pits dug into the tan dirt. The levels of the pits, how deeply they’re dug, vary throughout the room. The deepest levels were the first to be dug in that area, excavated by prehistoric people.

These people wore leather clothes, ate rabbits from around the countryside, fashioned axes and spears from chunks of wood and stone, and lived, slept, and carved the soft soil walls of their pit. The carvings creep up, higher and higher through the system of cavities; as the people built upon their own knowledge, strength, and community, generation after generation, they climbed out of the muddy holes until they dwelled upon the surface and started the process of building above-ground structures.

From the bleak beginnings of the first nomads to stop on that cliff and put their cracked grimy fingernails into the loam to the Medieval castle built up around the spot, progress is a tangible, tactile thing. You can see it, touch it.

Then it started to slide backward. You can see that, too, if you stand on the glass floor above the prehistoric pits where people who were just barely people struggled to advance the species. On that glass floor, over in the corner, sits a fat security guard in blue polyester stretch pants, sipping soda from a Pizza Hut cup, and he’s enthralled, absolutely captivated by a tiny blaring television on his desk. Stains from his greasy lunch dot his black uniform shirt and tie. At the TV, he giggles wildly, and when he does he drools a little.

You can only imagine the leader of the first noble caveman tribe standing up on the glass floor with you. His mouth hangs agape, his eyes wide, and if that pit man could speak English he’d say, “THIS! THIS! I freaking slept in mud and animal carcasses. I had damn bugs in my beard and THIS is what happens?! Oh, man!”

Thursday, February 14
ER
TNT 10:00 a.m.

Last week in kickboxing class, I sprained a love handle. Not to be confused with my butt-cheek injury from last year, no. This is a new development in the ongoing embarrassment that is my physical health. Watch out, American gladiators, as I come jiggling and limping to you. Oh, you’re so going to get it.

Futurama
Comedy 9:00 p.m.

President Schwarzenegger announced today that Paris Hilton will head up the federal reserve. What was started in 2000, with the election of George W. Bush as our president, now known to historians as the beginning of the “great bizarre slide,” culminates with the Hilton appointment. It’ll all be over soon, folks. We just have to pass through this vortex of ridiculousness until we arrive on the other side, where Gore won.

Friday, February 15
Desperate Housewives
ABC 9:00 p.m.

Terri Hatcher has big, weird boobs. There, I said it. Everyone’s thinking about it, but nobody wants to blurt it out. I mean, for ten hours a day we all sit around, wondering what kind of three-ring circus she’s got going on under that tank top, but nobody’s saying anything. Well, you’re welcome.

Saturday, February 16
My Friend Rabbit
NBC 10:00 a.m.

Last week marked the beginning of Lent and also the Chinese New Year. In honor of both occasions, I’ve given up moo goo gai pan. I love when holidays fall on the same day. I hope Arbor Day lands on Easter this year so I can plant a bunny and see if colorful eggs and M&Ms grow. Damn, I love M&Ms.

Midnight Madness
ESPN 9:00 p.m.

I would like to get involved with Chelsea Clinton. Because of my obsessive, nasty, frightened idea of what a relationship means, it would devolve until one of us, while sobbing recklessly, threw a cell phone at the other one’s car. With razors, we’d cut hearts into our bellies that would match up when we embraced. There’d be a lot of “If I can’t have you no one will!” and pills and vodka. The Secret Service would call away “code ugly” on the White House lawn and it would be beautiful anguish. Oh, Chelsea. Come to me, Chelsea!

Sunday, February 17
Showbiz Tonight
CNN Headline NEWS 8:00 p.m.

At some point, Britney Spears will be homeless and placing gypsy curses on passersby. She’ll stalk Hannah Montana, grab Hannah’s hand, spit on her feet, and scream, “You’ll be me! You’ll be me!” at which point Hannah will start the long, entertaining spiral into crazy. This is how Britney got it from Courtney Love.

Monday, February 18
The Breakfast Club
TVLand 7:00 p.m.

There’s a level of cool that I’m not sure I can reach. I mean, I’m all right. When I was a kid, I’d wear those short, green Larry Bird basketball shorts, cowboy boots, and a Darth Vader helmet. I’ve come a long way. But there’s this “cool” I’ll never be. There are incredibly thin people who really like David Bowie and the only nutrition they ingest is from cigarettes. I can’t pretend to dislike the Steve Miller Band. I just can’t do it.

Tuesday, February 19
The Biggest Loser: Couples
NBC 8:00 p.m.

The worst thing about food is that pad underneath meat. You know what it looks like and you know what it does. It sits in that Styrofoam tray, under the steak, and waits for you. It waits for you to get hungry because it knows you’ll have to touch it, and you’ll hold it with your fingertips and you’ll go, “Eeeee. Yeeeee. Yeeee,” while you do it. That’s its favorite thing.

Wednesday, February 20
America’s Next Top Model
CW 8:00 p.m.

Adding to my indignity as a child were my pants. I wore Sears Toughskins and some serious jerk at Sears thought it’d be a great idea to put the size on a label outside of the jeans. “Husky,” mine read. They also had an elastic waistband; the butt poofed out about four inches from everything else. Because of the fit, I had to wear them about three inches above my bellybutton and the legs stopped about mid-shin. Oh, I was a sight, boy.

Thursday, February 21
Most Unique McDonald’s
Travel 9:00 p.m.

A team of experts travels the globe in search of the “most unique McDonald’s restaurant.” And I weep. I weep.

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Comments

Russ Lewis Feb. 13, 2008 @ 6:49 p.m.

Most Unique McDonald's Restaurant: I nominate the location in downtown Barstow, Calif. It's set in the old train station. You place your order at the ticket counter and eat inside the old cars. Just like old times, only you're not moving. It's cool.

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Ollie Feb. 15, 2008 @ 6:15 p.m.

I disagree with your definition of "cool," but will fight to the death for your right to type it.

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markvega Feb. 16, 2008 @ 7:47 p.m.

I remember the Sears Toughskins. Mine were a wierd brownish-mustard color and no matter how many times you washed them they stayed as stiff as cardboard. They were a great addition to my parts collection which included blue Wranglers and acid-washed Rustlers.

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Russ Lewis Feb. 20, 2008 @ 11:50 p.m.

I concede the point, Ollie. The cars are out in the desert, and they're not air conditioned. I was there in the summertime, and it was decidedly uncool.

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