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The Reader's Eye on Television

"Would you get off the phone?" my dad yelled.

"I'm setting my watch. Give me a minute."

"It's close enough."

"No it isn't."

I wanted to synch my Batman watch with the infallible voice of time, the electronic lady from "popcorn." In my hometown, you could dial p-o-p-c-o-r-n, 767-2676, and hear a robotic, stop-jerk woman read the time. Her voice was a combination of the "Shall we play a game?" computer from War Games and a kindly telephone operator. I imagined her as a Tandy TRS-80 with a beehive hairdo and an earphone headset.

"The...time...is...11...38...and...15...seconds."

It was important that my watch be exactly right because I was the only one with a timepiece. If we were to carry out military actions in the creek down the street, accurate time measurement would be crucial. But, also, I liked her. Before I knew what attraction was, before hormones turned me into a slavering beast, I knew the computerized time lady's voice was the voice of my future wife. Maybe I would be a robot, too, by the time I was old enough to settle down.

I'd listen, holding the button on the side of my watch until it bore a white, tubular, indentation into the pink tip of my index finger. I waited to release the silver switch at the exact moment she said, "11...39," no seconds, the very top of the minute, and Batman would beep his approval for our upcoming missions.

A quick bike ride past the Episcopal Church and across Sunset Avenue intersection put me at the ditch where Steven and Timmy were waiting with hunks of charcoal from their fireplace. We'd charcoal our faces for camouflage, unsheathe the wooden swords from our green belts, and draw the plastic pistols from our pockets. Prisoners of war were rescued, lives won and lost on the ivy-covered banks of that stream.

Later that night, while my dad was distracted with The Dukes of Hazzard, I'd sneak back to the white telephone on the kitchen wall, dial the rotary slowly and quietly, and twist my finger in the ringed cord while she spoke to me in numbers.

"The...time...is...8...25...and..." First love.

Thursday, July 5 The Scorpion King USA 9:00 a.m. Isn't it a little early for The Rock's eyebrow and loin-clothed glutes to be gallivanting about in the desert stabbing things? Let's have some coffee and listen to radio news for a little bit then we'll get into the half-naked swordplay. Huh. What a coincidence. Half-Naked Swordplay was the name of the first movie I was in. It was an art film. I was in college.

Big Brother 8 CBS 8:00 p.m. Seven and a half too many. Although, I do like that Asian woman who hosts the show. Not that she's entertaining in any way, I'd just like to see her try to introduce guests and cut to commercial while I was giving her a lapdance the whole time. "Uh. Uh. You like that? Put the dollar in my garter. C'mon!"

Friday, July 6 Standoff Fox 9:00 p.m. This show is about a hostage negotiator who talks down hot situations. A better show would be "Change Machine Standoff," where I yell, "This damn thing ate my dollar and I still have wet clothes in the dryer!" Each episode ends with me tugging on the coin return handle and banging my head against the digital readout display. Then your television set would magically produce cake. That's why it would be a better show. Everyone loves cake.

Saturday, July 7 Bosley: Hair Loss Answers Discovery 7:00 a.m. What was the question? Unless it's coming out in thick, mangy patches on parts of your body other than your head, the reason behind hair loss is pretty straightforward. You're becoming your father. Get some black dress socks, khaki shorts, and a lawn mower. Drink Miller out of a bottle and practice saying things like, "yep, looks like it's going to be a hot one." It's inevitable. Don't fight it. Cultivate an odor of wet trash.

Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis NBC 8:00 p.m. Scheduled performances include Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Fall Out Boy, Enrique Iglesias, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My counter theory to the carbon emissions rise in temperature is that global warming is caused by the inflated egos of our super rich and famous. When Madonna and Sheryl Crow fight over the last bottle of Evian backstage, this concert may launch us into the next catastrophic weather event. If Fall Out Boy and The Red Hot Chili Peppers have to pass each other in the hall, Hurricane Katrina will look like the puff of breath from a Girl Scout blowing a dandelion.

Sunday, July 7 Double Impact KUSI 8:00 p.m. Jean Claude Van Damme plays his own evil twin. In real life Jean Claude's twin isn't evil, but he is a perfect opposite to the yowling martial arts movie star. He speaks the Queen's English, collects cheeses and coffees from his world travels, practices Shakespeare lines into a digital recorder until he has them right. Enjoys knitting shawls. Wouldn't think of kicking someone in the jaw unless it were for, oh, I don't know, emergency first aid purposes or something. Doesn't enjoy "sweaty" activities.

Monday, July 8 Rachel Ray ABC 9:00 a.m. I would like my own "hints and tips around the home" show. The problem with that is I like to get drunk early in the morning and play pranks on people. Waves of hate letters would come rolling in after I told everyone, "Remember, butter your iron for easy gliding over those wrinkled shirts" and "To get your cat down off the couch, kick it in the ass. It's okay, they like it."

Tuesday, July 9 Del Sur: The Best New Community in America Fox 8:00 p.m. What about the rich cultural tapestry that is North Park? We have everything from tacos to burritos. Our music ranges from Norteno to Mariachi, and the flags of every state, from Baja to Nayarit, fly in the windows of every apartment and low-rider pickup. You couldn't ask for a better place to live. Wait. I've recently grown a mustache and it makes me say crazy things. I'm not sure if this is how I really feel or if, as my therapist says, "It's the mustache talking."

Wednesday, July 10 Synchronized Swimming: The Pursuit of Excellence PBS 8:00 p.m. Synchronized Snoozer: The Pursuit of Boring. Actually, since this includes women in bathing suits, this is the raciest show ever broadcast on PBS. Never mind that they're wearing once-pieces, nose plugs, and shower caps, run with this PBS. Run with it and maybe your long reign of horrible sucking will come to an end. Or you can go back to whining about your lack of funds and a marathon of "British Tea Time with Little Lord Fartface." Up to you.

Thursday, July 11 Bring It On Family 7:00 p.m. My directorial debut will be a project I call Bring It on Seven: Fight Club for Girls, Electric Boogaloo, Now What?! Starring Elisha Cuthbert, Brad Pitt, and Joey Fatone. UFC Superstar, Randy Couture, will stand in the middle of a ring and punch the living daylights out of pack of attacking cheerleaders. Then they'll hug out their differences and have a picnic. With kittens. And a unicorn. I'm looking for "broad appeal," more than creative and artistic credibility. Fun for the whole family, that sort of thing.

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"Would you get off the phone?" my dad yelled.

"I'm setting my watch. Give me a minute."

"It's close enough."

"No it isn't."

I wanted to synch my Batman watch with the infallible voice of time, the electronic lady from "popcorn." In my hometown, you could dial p-o-p-c-o-r-n, 767-2676, and hear a robotic, stop-jerk woman read the time. Her voice was a combination of the "Shall we play a game?" computer from War Games and a kindly telephone operator. I imagined her as a Tandy TRS-80 with a beehive hairdo and an earphone headset.

"The...time...is...11...38...and...15...seconds."

It was important that my watch be exactly right because I was the only one with a timepiece. If we were to carry out military actions in the creek down the street, accurate time measurement would be crucial. But, also, I liked her. Before I knew what attraction was, before hormones turned me into a slavering beast, I knew the computerized time lady's voice was the voice of my future wife. Maybe I would be a robot, too, by the time I was old enough to settle down.

I'd listen, holding the button on the side of my watch until it bore a white, tubular, indentation into the pink tip of my index finger. I waited to release the silver switch at the exact moment she said, "11...39," no seconds, the very top of the minute, and Batman would beep his approval for our upcoming missions.

A quick bike ride past the Episcopal Church and across Sunset Avenue intersection put me at the ditch where Steven and Timmy were waiting with hunks of charcoal from their fireplace. We'd charcoal our faces for camouflage, unsheathe the wooden swords from our green belts, and draw the plastic pistols from our pockets. Prisoners of war were rescued, lives won and lost on the ivy-covered banks of that stream.

Later that night, while my dad was distracted with The Dukes of Hazzard, I'd sneak back to the white telephone on the kitchen wall, dial the rotary slowly and quietly, and twist my finger in the ringed cord while she spoke to me in numbers.

"The...time...is...8...25...and..." First love.

Thursday, July 5 The Scorpion King USA 9:00 a.m. Isn't it a little early for The Rock's eyebrow and loin-clothed glutes to be gallivanting about in the desert stabbing things? Let's have some coffee and listen to radio news for a little bit then we'll get into the half-naked swordplay. Huh. What a coincidence. Half-Naked Swordplay was the name of the first movie I was in. It was an art film. I was in college.

Big Brother 8 CBS 8:00 p.m. Seven and a half too many. Although, I do like that Asian woman who hosts the show. Not that she's entertaining in any way, I'd just like to see her try to introduce guests and cut to commercial while I was giving her a lapdance the whole time. "Uh. Uh. You like that? Put the dollar in my garter. C'mon!"

Friday, July 6 Standoff Fox 9:00 p.m. This show is about a hostage negotiator who talks down hot situations. A better show would be "Change Machine Standoff," where I yell, "This damn thing ate my dollar and I still have wet clothes in the dryer!" Each episode ends with me tugging on the coin return handle and banging my head against the digital readout display. Then your television set would magically produce cake. That's why it would be a better show. Everyone loves cake.

Saturday, July 7 Bosley: Hair Loss Answers Discovery 7:00 a.m. What was the question? Unless it's coming out in thick, mangy patches on parts of your body other than your head, the reason behind hair loss is pretty straightforward. You're becoming your father. Get some black dress socks, khaki shorts, and a lawn mower. Drink Miller out of a bottle and practice saying things like, "yep, looks like it's going to be a hot one." It's inevitable. Don't fight it. Cultivate an odor of wet trash.

Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis NBC 8:00 p.m. Scheduled performances include Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Fall Out Boy, Enrique Iglesias, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My counter theory to the carbon emissions rise in temperature is that global warming is caused by the inflated egos of our super rich and famous. When Madonna and Sheryl Crow fight over the last bottle of Evian backstage, this concert may launch us into the next catastrophic weather event. If Fall Out Boy and The Red Hot Chili Peppers have to pass each other in the hall, Hurricane Katrina will look like the puff of breath from a Girl Scout blowing a dandelion.

Sunday, July 7 Double Impact KUSI 8:00 p.m. Jean Claude Van Damme plays his own evil twin. In real life Jean Claude's twin isn't evil, but he is a perfect opposite to the yowling martial arts movie star. He speaks the Queen's English, collects cheeses and coffees from his world travels, practices Shakespeare lines into a digital recorder until he has them right. Enjoys knitting shawls. Wouldn't think of kicking someone in the jaw unless it were for, oh, I don't know, emergency first aid purposes or something. Doesn't enjoy "sweaty" activities.

Monday, July 8 Rachel Ray ABC 9:00 a.m. I would like my own "hints and tips around the home" show. The problem with that is I like to get drunk early in the morning and play pranks on people. Waves of hate letters would come rolling in after I told everyone, "Remember, butter your iron for easy gliding over those wrinkled shirts" and "To get your cat down off the couch, kick it in the ass. It's okay, they like it."

Tuesday, July 9 Del Sur: The Best New Community in America Fox 8:00 p.m. What about the rich cultural tapestry that is North Park? We have everything from tacos to burritos. Our music ranges from Norteno to Mariachi, and the flags of every state, from Baja to Nayarit, fly in the windows of every apartment and low-rider pickup. You couldn't ask for a better place to live. Wait. I've recently grown a mustache and it makes me say crazy things. I'm not sure if this is how I really feel or if, as my therapist says, "It's the mustache talking."

Wednesday, July 10 Synchronized Swimming: The Pursuit of Excellence PBS 8:00 p.m. Synchronized Snoozer: The Pursuit of Boring. Actually, since this includes women in bathing suits, this is the raciest show ever broadcast on PBS. Never mind that they're wearing once-pieces, nose plugs, and shower caps, run with this PBS. Run with it and maybe your long reign of horrible sucking will come to an end. Or you can go back to whining about your lack of funds and a marathon of "British Tea Time with Little Lord Fartface." Up to you.

Thursday, July 11 Bring It On Family 7:00 p.m. My directorial debut will be a project I call Bring It on Seven: Fight Club for Girls, Electric Boogaloo, Now What?! Starring Elisha Cuthbert, Brad Pitt, and Joey Fatone. UFC Superstar, Randy Couture, will stand in the middle of a ring and punch the living daylights out of pack of attacking cheerleaders. Then they'll hug out their differences and have a picnic. With kittens. And a unicorn. I'm looking for "broad appeal," more than creative and artistic credibility. Fun for the whole family, that sort of thing.

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