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"TODAY IS GOING TO BE A NICE ONE: SUNNY IN THE MORNING to mid-afternoon with partly cloudy skies this evening, but only a slight chance of rain," the blond weatherman in the tailored, navy blue suit announced from the screen.

I leaned back in my chair, reached for the curtain, and pulled it aside. Water washed down the glass in waves. The sky was absent. There was only lack of light where a sky would be. I put my jacket on and dressed for rain.

A good part of my job at American Neon was shipping and receiving. Out on a concrete pad in front of the shop I broke crates down, built new crates, packed and unpacked new signs, old signs, materials to build signs. My jacket was little help to my pants when I had to kneel on wet concrete. By noon everything below my thighs would be saturated, heavy, and cold.

The next day, "It rained a little yesterday, but today all that cloud cover is going to move out to the south and make way for some nice sunshine in the region," the weather dentist stated while moving his arm in broad circles over a map and then pointing to a sunny graphic in the upper corner.

I set the spoon back in my oatmeal, leaned, and pulled the curtain to one side. Rain was sheeting down the window, and every few seconds a gust of wind would reverse the fall and blow the rain upward and spray the window in fans of drops. The force caused the rain to rattle and bang against the pane. I dressed for rain despite the sunny predictions.

Next to the sign shop was a graveled yard where we kept the crates. The wheels of the handtrucks would dig into the mud when we collected the six-foot-tall wooden boxes and brought them to the concrete. By noon I had abandoned the dolly. When I reached the crates, I'd drag them back through the sloshy gray pit, and they'd scrortch-scrortch over the submerged pebbles and rocks.

The next day, "Sometimes, the best way to know what's going on with the weather is to just look outside," weathersatan announced to his viewers. Two days of sun predicted, two days of rain on my shoulders. "Right now, we've got some patchy clouds -- I think they're cirrus clouds -- over the area, but they'll blow through and leave us with lots of warm sun for today and tomorrow."

I clicked the power button on the remote; the image focused into a single white pixel and disappeared, leaving the screen black and reflecting my dimly lit living room. In the reflection I could see myself and the window behind me. The curtain was opened. My mirror image cast a bright silhouette against the frame of rain behind me. I hung my head and dressed for rain.


Thursday, March 17

Dennis the Menace: Cruise Control

HBO 54, 6:30 a.m.

Hmm, I wonder if Dennis gives Mr. Wilson a hard time in this one. Because those gags are so fresh and clever.

Miss Congeniality (2000)

TBS 33, 8:00 p.m.

Remember when Sandra Bullock mattered? It was well before this steaming sack landed on the lawn. Now Hollywood is making a sequel to Miss Congeniality, due out this summer. Whoopee! How can the writers, producers, and directors of these dogs collect a paycheck with a clear conscience? I'm kinda being bitchy today, aren't I? Oh, well, onward.

Friday, March 18

Celebrity Justice

WB 5, 12:30 p.m.

My dad has an irrational hatred for celebrities who break the law. He delights when they're caught and was pissed when Martha Stewart was recently released from jail. "If I got caught like she did, I'd be locked up in the darkest hole in America. They'd have to draw pictures of sunshine for me and shoot biscuits at my ass. House arrest, what a crock!"

Surprise by Design

DSC 35, 1:00 p.m.

I've got a design idea that the Discovery Channel might want to look into. I've invented the world's first shelfless toilet. It's a regular toilet except the hinges aren't connected to that little spot of no-man's-land between the seat and tank. You know: that useless little stretch of porcelain that only serves as a moist dust and butt-hair collection tray? Do away with it. If necessity is the mother of invention, then abject laziness and strict cleanliness standards are close cousins.

Saturday, March 19

Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

TCM 58, 1:00 p.m.

The song "Coal Miner's Daughter" by Loretta Lynn can only be sung in an uneducated Southern accent because of the line, "The work we done was hard / At night we'd sleep 'cause we were tired." That "tired" is pronounced "tarred" to make the rhyme. And here you thought the perversion of English was the fault of my generation.

Jeff Foxworthy: Totally Committed

COMEDY 48, 5:30 p.m.

How to be a comedian in four short steps. Step (1) Learn formula: ask a question, set up, pause, drop punchline. Repeat: ask a question, set up, pause, drop punchline. Step (2) Look for a marketable angle: you're gay, you're a redneck, you're Asian. Step (3) If all else fails, talk about the tiny amount of orange juice restaurants pass off as a "large." That slays them. Step (4) Weep when you see an Eddie Izzard DVD.

Seven Samurai (1954)


I'm halfway through Seven Samurai, three and a half hours of black-and-white Japanese culture. I started watching it with my friends, Barb and David, a couple nights ago. Barb and I were raised by electronics and must strain to hold interest in something longer than a song. David, on the other hand, is a baby boomer, and I consider him the Gandhi of popular cinema. He could easily have breezed through this movie without so much as a piss break. At the halfway mark I was white-knuckle gripping my chair and sweating from the forehead. Barb had already abandoned the film to divide her time between her computer, iPod, and phone. David, seated in the lotus position, just looked at us and shook his head.

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