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The Reader's Eye on Television

"I've heard you can Effect the outcome of sporting events." "You've been misinformed," the man says. "I don't effect the outcome of sporting events any more than you do, or anyone for that matter." His purple silk cravat catches the light and draws a white line from his chin to the black clip-on microphone situated in the v-neck of his pinstriped smoking jacket. Beneath his bust onscreen, subtle white graphics on a red background read, "Morton Willowby: Sport Forecaster."

"All right," the reporter drops a shade of confidence and flusters. "I've heard you've never lost a bet."

"That's true," the foppish gentleman replies.

"Why are you retiring from betting on sports?"

"I'm quite wealthy, as you well know. Sport betting has been good to me. I have even bought my own professional sporting teams."

"I have that here," the reporter states, flipping through pages on a clipboard. "You own a basketball team, a football team, and a hockey team. Why would you let your own teams lose if you can sway the final score?"

"I don't determine the outcome of games," Morton replies, letting some composure slip. "Everyone does."

"I'm sorry," the reporter's words falter and he turns to look into the camera. He turns back, and in a higher tone, a questioning tone, he asks, "Everyone determines the outcome of sporting events?"

"Yes," the man replies. "Everyone. Every fan. Everywhere. The determination of the fans, the dedication to positive thought, the lucky rituals, the lucky items, the totems and idols -- it all adds up. It fills like a cup. The team whose fans overflow the cup first wins. Some cups flow for years; these are called dynasties. Some cups never overflow. Those teams languish in 'slumps' or 'bad-luck streaks,' sometimes for decades."

"And, you can cheer for a team more than other people and fill the cup quicker?" the reporter asks.

"Are you an idiot?" Morton asks. "I don't cheer for the team or pour faster or have a special ritual that holds more intention than others."

"What is it you do then?" the reporter shows his agitation and forces his finger toward the face of his subject. "What is it the technique that you use to ensure that you have won every sports bet you've ever wagered on?"

"I can see the cups."

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, February 2

Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island (Season PremierE)

CBS 8:00 p.m. No Survivors would be the more interesting program.

Jurassic Park

USA 9:00 p.m. We've built dinosaurs up to be vicious, blood-lusting creatures. Every program dedicated to them is centered on how they fight and kill and eat each other. But, if we cloned them and kept them in a zoo, I think they'd be a letdown. I bet all they'd do is sort of sit around and lick their balls a lot.

Friday, February 3

Discoveries This Week

SCIENCE 8:00 p.m. I believe the documentary series Back to the Future promised me a floating skateboard by now. I'm standing here with my arms out, waiting for you, the scientific community, to hand over said hover-skate. Shame. Shame on the scientists for breaking the hearts of millions of young Americans.

Saturday, February 4

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

FOX 6:30 a.m. Everyone knows that the youngest daughter from the show is a soft-core nudie star now, but what people don't know is I had Alfonso Ribeiro parading around in a Little Bo Peep outfit and shooting smack into the webbing of his toes on the 4th of July two years back. If only I could find the Polaroids from those carefree days. NO, ALFONSO! PUT THE GUN DOWN!

Sunday, February 5

Figure Skating

ESPN 3:30 p.m. Ladies and gentlemen, here we are! The big day has arrived. The faces are painted, the Li'l Smokies are bubbling away in a microwavable bowl, and I can hear the unique sound of a thousand beer cans cracking. Today IS Super Bowl Sunday Figure Skating! Here we go, Viacheslav! Here we go! Here we go, Viacheslav! Here we go!

Monday, February 6

Fox 6 News in the Morning

FOX 7:00 a.m. I'm flicking my ashes in the little tin foil strip from a pack of cigarettes, and a mouse is crunch crunch crunching crumbs and dried pieces of food on my kitchen floor. Brown booze is collecting in puddles on the table around my shot glass, and all I can think is Goddamn it, Monday morning and I've got to work .

Skating with Celebrities

FOX 8:00 p.m. Besides Todd Bridges, my barber is more famous than all the "celebrities" on this cavalcade of mediocrity.

Tuesday, February 7

Eve

UPN 8:00 p.m. Did you hear the big news? UPN and the WB have merged to form a different, separate, and unique channel. FINALLY! Boy, I've been waiting for a new brand of fresh shows to push me one step closer to opening my wrists up with a rusty pair of scissors.

Wednesday, February 8

The 48th Annual Grammy Awards

CBS 8:00 p.m. My dream is to one day be a red-carpet reporter and run up to recording stars like Kevin Federline and scream, "K Fed! Who are you wearing?!" And, after he answers, I'll yell, "WHO GIVES A CRAP? YOU SUCK!" and I'll try to strike him about the head and neck with my microphone.

Thursday, February 9

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

FAM 8:00 p.m. My roommate came home one night while I was watching Under the Tuscan Sun . The door slammed and there were footfalls on the stairs while I fumbled with the remote. The battery door on the controller blew off. The channel wouldn't change. I lunged at the television set. A hand closed around my wrist with my finger a few inches from the rectangular power button. My roommate's voice rang like a judge's gavel, "Wait. Wait. Don't turn it off. What are you watching here?"

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"I've heard you can Effect the outcome of sporting events." "You've been misinformed," the man says. "I don't effect the outcome of sporting events any more than you do, or anyone for that matter." His purple silk cravat catches the light and draws a white line from his chin to the black clip-on microphone situated in the v-neck of his pinstriped smoking jacket. Beneath his bust onscreen, subtle white graphics on a red background read, "Morton Willowby: Sport Forecaster."

"All right," the reporter drops a shade of confidence and flusters. "I've heard you've never lost a bet."

"That's true," the foppish gentleman replies.

"Why are you retiring from betting on sports?"

"I'm quite wealthy, as you well know. Sport betting has been good to me. I have even bought my own professional sporting teams."

"I have that here," the reporter states, flipping through pages on a clipboard. "You own a basketball team, a football team, and a hockey team. Why would you let your own teams lose if you can sway the final score?"

"I don't determine the outcome of games," Morton replies, letting some composure slip. "Everyone does."

"I'm sorry," the reporter's words falter and he turns to look into the camera. He turns back, and in a higher tone, a questioning tone, he asks, "Everyone determines the outcome of sporting events?"

"Yes," the man replies. "Everyone. Every fan. Everywhere. The determination of the fans, the dedication to positive thought, the lucky rituals, the lucky items, the totems and idols -- it all adds up. It fills like a cup. The team whose fans overflow the cup first wins. Some cups flow for years; these are called dynasties. Some cups never overflow. Those teams languish in 'slumps' or 'bad-luck streaks,' sometimes for decades."

"And, you can cheer for a team more than other people and fill the cup quicker?" the reporter asks.

"Are you an idiot?" Morton asks. "I don't cheer for the team or pour faster or have a special ritual that holds more intention than others."

"What is it you do then?" the reporter shows his agitation and forces his finger toward the face of his subject. "What is it the technique that you use to ensure that you have won every sports bet you've ever wagered on?"

"I can see the cups."

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, February 2

Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island (Season PremierE)

CBS 8:00 p.m. No Survivors would be the more interesting program.

Jurassic Park

USA 9:00 p.m. We've built dinosaurs up to be vicious, blood-lusting creatures. Every program dedicated to them is centered on how they fight and kill and eat each other. But, if we cloned them and kept them in a zoo, I think they'd be a letdown. I bet all they'd do is sort of sit around and lick their balls a lot.

Friday, February 3

Discoveries This Week

SCIENCE 8:00 p.m. I believe the documentary series Back to the Future promised me a floating skateboard by now. I'm standing here with my arms out, waiting for you, the scientific community, to hand over said hover-skate. Shame. Shame on the scientists for breaking the hearts of millions of young Americans.

Saturday, February 4

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

FOX 6:30 a.m. Everyone knows that the youngest daughter from the show is a soft-core nudie star now, but what people don't know is I had Alfonso Ribeiro parading around in a Little Bo Peep outfit and shooting smack into the webbing of his toes on the 4th of July two years back. If only I could find the Polaroids from those carefree days. NO, ALFONSO! PUT THE GUN DOWN!

Sunday, February 5

Figure Skating

ESPN 3:30 p.m. Ladies and gentlemen, here we are! The big day has arrived. The faces are painted, the Li'l Smokies are bubbling away in a microwavable bowl, and I can hear the unique sound of a thousand beer cans cracking. Today IS Super Bowl Sunday Figure Skating! Here we go, Viacheslav! Here we go! Here we go, Viacheslav! Here we go!

Monday, February 6

Fox 6 News in the Morning

FOX 7:00 a.m. I'm flicking my ashes in the little tin foil strip from a pack of cigarettes, and a mouse is crunch crunch crunching crumbs and dried pieces of food on my kitchen floor. Brown booze is collecting in puddles on the table around my shot glass, and all I can think is Goddamn it, Monday morning and I've got to work .

Skating with Celebrities

FOX 8:00 p.m. Besides Todd Bridges, my barber is more famous than all the "celebrities" on this cavalcade of mediocrity.

Tuesday, February 7

Eve

UPN 8:00 p.m. Did you hear the big news? UPN and the WB have merged to form a different, separate, and unique channel. FINALLY! Boy, I've been waiting for a new brand of fresh shows to push me one step closer to opening my wrists up with a rusty pair of scissors.

Wednesday, February 8

The 48th Annual Grammy Awards

CBS 8:00 p.m. My dream is to one day be a red-carpet reporter and run up to recording stars like Kevin Federline and scream, "K Fed! Who are you wearing?!" And, after he answers, I'll yell, "WHO GIVES A CRAP? YOU SUCK!" and I'll try to strike him about the head and neck with my microphone.

Thursday, February 9

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

FAM 8:00 p.m. My roommate came home one night while I was watching Under the Tuscan Sun . The door slammed and there were footfalls on the stairs while I fumbled with the remote. The battery door on the controller blew off. The channel wouldn't change. I lunged at the television set. A hand closed around my wrist with my finger a few inches from the rectangular power button. My roommate's voice rang like a judge's gavel, "Wait. Wait. Don't turn it off. What are you watching here?"

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