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The Reader's Eye on Television

I kick my feet up on my coffee table. My reclined position affords me an unusual view. On the expanse of white ceiling the contrast of a small black dot catches my eye. The dot moves, not in any one direction, but idles there, wiggling in one spot on the ceiling.

I flip channels with the remote control. Flip. A smile flashes on the screen. Flip. Smile. Flip.

The dot rappels straight down into my living room along an invisible line, and I can smell what it is. It's a spider. Most people can't smell spiders, but I can. Spiders have an acrid, poisonous, chemical odor.

"Nothing on," I mumble to the spider. Channel 48: nothing. Channel 68: nothing. I flip channels.

The spider closes half the distance from the ceiling to my outstretched legs in a couple of seconds. Small air currents in the room spin it in a slow rotation as it descends. Some of the spider's legs work to dispense the strand of web from its abdomen, some legs work to slow its spinning, some legs work to lower itself cautiously.

I'm ignoring the TV now, watching the spider get closer and closer to the arch of my foot. In the surface of the screen I can see the reflection of the room, the spider covering my right eye in the mirror image.

I shift my eyes from the reflection in the screen to the image being broadcast. George W. Bush pleads to the American public. The spider's ammonia smell hangs.

The spider drops another inch, and I can feel its kicking legs against the hair of my right foot.

I flip the channel again.

The spider steadies itself and lands against my skin. The spider turns, surveying its new surroundings, the terra of my flesh, the forest of my foot hair. I bring my left foot over and menace it. I agitate it with my heel, making crushing movements toward it and then reversing before I smash it. The spider's legs scrunch its body down each time my heel gets close.

"Son of a bitch!" I scream when it bites me.

I kick the spider off of my foot without harming it and flip channels with the remote.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, June 2

America's Next Top Model

VH1, 5:00 p.m.

With all the turmoil in South America and the popularity of reality-TV game shows, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I beat out 12 other contestants to become the leader of an emerging nation. I've got my mirrored sunglasses, epaulets, and fancy hats all packed and ready to go.

Friday, June 3

This Is Your Day

WB, 6:30 a.m.

When the sun hasn't broken through the morning haze of O.B., the diffused light comes from every direction, and shadows aren't cast. Rummies, bummies, me, and tourists line up along the seawall, sip coffee, and stare out at the gray clouds and waves, expectant.

Saturday, June 4

Smurfs

WB, 7:30 a.m.

Because what else are you going to watch on Saturday morning? All the yelling and bright lights of infomercials are enough to make you shut the TV off. And you don't want to do that. You need something soothing. You said you'd only have three drinks, but you blew past that limit before midnight. Now you're sitting on the couch watching cartoons instead of going to the gym.

Night Shift (1982)

Arts channel, 8:00 a.m.

A tall, curvy woman in lime-green lingerie, wearing high, stiff hair and glittery body makeup paraded past the full front window of the tattoo shop. "What is this chick doing walking around downtown in underwear and clear plastic shoes?" someone asked. We speculated as to whether she was "working" or if she was shooting porno pics in one of the live-work lofts in the neighborhood. "I don't know what she's doing," I answered, craning my neck. "But as long as she's walking around out here, there's a very empty stage somewhere with music pumping and lights flashing on a lonely chrome pole."

Sunday, June 5

My Science Project (1985)

KTLA, 1:00 p.m.

If I get my socks out of the laundry and roll them together in pairs, then the elastic band gets stretched out and loose. BUT! If I turn my socks inside out before I roll the tops together then my socks should get tighter and tighter. Eventually, the elastic tops of my socks will be so tight as to create a small black hole that I can use to vacuum behind my couch.

Monday, June 6

Hell's Kitchen

FOX, 8:00 p.m.

This must be good because they're advertising it a lot.

Tuesday, June 7

The Michael Jackson Trial

E! Channel, 7:30 p.m.

This is the creepiest thing I've ever seen in my life. The show is a reenactment of trial testimony on a flimsy sound stage by unknown actors. It gives me one of those deep shivers, the kind where my arms and everything shake. BBBBBRRRRRRAAAAAHHH!

Star Trek

SCIFI, 3:00 a.m.

James Spader sleeps with William Shatner in a scene from next season's Boston Legal. In an interview, Spader said it was an intimate moment and added that Shatner smells like venison and lamb sausage with rosemary and ranch dressing. I love that. Captain Kirk does a gay scene, and it's said that he smells like sausage. You're not going to get that cultural reference from any other country. That's All-American stuff.

Wednesday, June 8

Seinfeld

XETV, 7:30 p.m.

I saw an interview with Jason Alexander where he referred to himself in the third person. "Jason needs to be in every show, or Jason is going to move on to another project," he said. One thing is for sure, Jason Alexander is freaking cool. I'm going to refer to myself as "Ollie" for the rest of this article.

Thursday, June 9

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

USA, 8:00 p.m.

Here it is Thursday and Ollie keeps thinking it's Wednesday for some reason.

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Berms, fire spinner, homeless, bully, radicals, Newport Avenue

I kick my feet up on my coffee table. My reclined position affords me an unusual view. On the expanse of white ceiling the contrast of a small black dot catches my eye. The dot moves, not in any one direction, but idles there, wiggling in one spot on the ceiling.

I flip channels with the remote control. Flip. A smile flashes on the screen. Flip. Smile. Flip.

The dot rappels straight down into my living room along an invisible line, and I can smell what it is. It's a spider. Most people can't smell spiders, but I can. Spiders have an acrid, poisonous, chemical odor.

"Nothing on," I mumble to the spider. Channel 48: nothing. Channel 68: nothing. I flip channels.

The spider closes half the distance from the ceiling to my outstretched legs in a couple of seconds. Small air currents in the room spin it in a slow rotation as it descends. Some of the spider's legs work to dispense the strand of web from its abdomen, some legs work to slow its spinning, some legs work to lower itself cautiously.

I'm ignoring the TV now, watching the spider get closer and closer to the arch of my foot. In the surface of the screen I can see the reflection of the room, the spider covering my right eye in the mirror image.

I shift my eyes from the reflection in the screen to the image being broadcast. George W. Bush pleads to the American public. The spider's ammonia smell hangs.

The spider drops another inch, and I can feel its kicking legs against the hair of my right foot.

I flip the channel again.

The spider steadies itself and lands against my skin. The spider turns, surveying its new surroundings, the terra of my flesh, the forest of my foot hair. I bring my left foot over and menace it. I agitate it with my heel, making crushing movements toward it and then reversing before I smash it. The spider's legs scrunch its body down each time my heel gets close.

"Son of a bitch!" I scream when it bites me.

I kick the spider off of my foot without harming it and flip channels with the remote.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, June 2

America's Next Top Model

VH1, 5:00 p.m.

With all the turmoil in South America and the popularity of reality-TV game shows, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I beat out 12 other contestants to become the leader of an emerging nation. I've got my mirrored sunglasses, epaulets, and fancy hats all packed and ready to go.

Friday, June 3

This Is Your Day

WB, 6:30 a.m.

When the sun hasn't broken through the morning haze of O.B., the diffused light comes from every direction, and shadows aren't cast. Rummies, bummies, me, and tourists line up along the seawall, sip coffee, and stare out at the gray clouds and waves, expectant.

Saturday, June 4

Smurfs

WB, 7:30 a.m.

Because what else are you going to watch on Saturday morning? All the yelling and bright lights of infomercials are enough to make you shut the TV off. And you don't want to do that. You need something soothing. You said you'd only have three drinks, but you blew past that limit before midnight. Now you're sitting on the couch watching cartoons instead of going to the gym.

Night Shift (1982)

Arts channel, 8:00 a.m.

A tall, curvy woman in lime-green lingerie, wearing high, stiff hair and glittery body makeup paraded past the full front window of the tattoo shop. "What is this chick doing walking around downtown in underwear and clear plastic shoes?" someone asked. We speculated as to whether she was "working" or if she was shooting porno pics in one of the live-work lofts in the neighborhood. "I don't know what she's doing," I answered, craning my neck. "But as long as she's walking around out here, there's a very empty stage somewhere with music pumping and lights flashing on a lonely chrome pole."

Sunday, June 5

My Science Project (1985)

KTLA, 1:00 p.m.

If I get my socks out of the laundry and roll them together in pairs, then the elastic band gets stretched out and loose. BUT! If I turn my socks inside out before I roll the tops together then my socks should get tighter and tighter. Eventually, the elastic tops of my socks will be so tight as to create a small black hole that I can use to vacuum behind my couch.

Monday, June 6

Hell's Kitchen

FOX, 8:00 p.m.

This must be good because they're advertising it a lot.

Tuesday, June 7

The Michael Jackson Trial

E! Channel, 7:30 p.m.

This is the creepiest thing I've ever seen in my life. The show is a reenactment of trial testimony on a flimsy sound stage by unknown actors. It gives me one of those deep shivers, the kind where my arms and everything shake. BBBBBRRRRRRAAAAAHHH!

Star Trek

SCIFI, 3:00 a.m.

James Spader sleeps with William Shatner in a scene from next season's Boston Legal. In an interview, Spader said it was an intimate moment and added that Shatner smells like venison and lamb sausage with rosemary and ranch dressing. I love that. Captain Kirk does a gay scene, and it's said that he smells like sausage. You're not going to get that cultural reference from any other country. That's All-American stuff.

Wednesday, June 8

Seinfeld

XETV, 7:30 p.m.

I saw an interview with Jason Alexander where he referred to himself in the third person. "Jason needs to be in every show, or Jason is going to move on to another project," he said. One thing is for sure, Jason Alexander is freaking cool. I'm going to refer to myself as "Ollie" for the rest of this article.

Thursday, June 9

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

USA, 8:00 p.m.

Here it is Thursday and Ollie keeps thinking it's Wednesday for some reason.

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