It's like I can't watch TV unless I've written 900 words at the kitchen table before. It's as if I have to earn it. TV is sloth, that's why. Even though TV is not TV as it once was, there's still something shameful in the back of my head about watching too much, about abandoning everything but basking in the glow of the comforting rectangle.

This is because I watched too much TV as a kid. When Daughter was younger, I throttled the TV - there were a few shows in the morning we watched in the family room while I worked, but the idea of just watching TV all day was a horror, and would not happen. As it turns out now she hardly watches the TV, but watches things on other platforms - which is somehow okay because it's not the TV. But in a way it's better; she's usually drawing or doing something while she absorbs a show from the second screen, and that's what I do a lot. It's the slack-jawed unthinking absorption of the images I find revolting, so I'll have none of that.

Of course, when I'm watching, my impassive face masks a variety of complex aesthetic evaluations, you see.

But to return to the real issue: I watched too much TV as a kid. In the summer I soaked up every single game show until they ran out of game shows at 1:00, when Let's Make a Deal ended. This I watched with my mom, who - as I've mentioned, just to let you know I know I'm repeating myself - had a crush on Monty Hall. Maybe. She said she thought he would be "fun at parties," which made me wonder if she imagined herself sitting nearby, smiling, part of the smart set, but the decent and nice smart set.

I think she also liked Jack Lord.

Anyway: game shows are tripe, but in those days they were part of the imaginary construct of happy fun excitement that flowed out of the box for the housebound, and if you were doing cleaning or taking a break from rubbing Brasso on something, sure, it was fun. But for me it was a fountain of liquid crack, and I have no idea why I was so drawn to it. I read, I wrote, I did all these other things, but I sat there and let game shows bore into my brain hour after hour.

In the evening, WE FEAST ON TV! This was different from the TV that was sometimes watched at the dinner table, and I have no idea who suggested that ghastly idea, but I am almost ashamed to say there was a TV going during dinner. Always? No. In my later teen years? A lot. Because my sister wanted to watch? I don't know. It's a dim memory. That particular TV followed me to college, where the switch broke 'cause it's old, as Elvis said; the knob that changed the channel was plastic, so constant changing wore it down and made it loose. You might ask how much we changed the channel in those days, and I'll tell you: when you hit that point in the evening where there didn't seem to be anything good on - at least according to the TV Guide - you would switch back and forth, and that meant going from 4 to 6 to 11, and you gunned it when you were going from 4 to 11. This wore out the knob. People of a certain age know that a pliers was your channel-changing device, just as the pencil was invaluable for repairing cassette tapes.

The idea of sitting down to consume TV without necessarily caring what the programs is something I rejected as soon as I left home, and did so with ease. There was no TV in the dorm my first year. It didn't matter. Going to the commons area where the TV played was like watching people perform the rites of a religion you'd renounced. I had a TV my second year, and it was a great comfort on lonely Sunday nights, when they'd run Monty Python and the Prisoner. But I was still selective. I didn't watch much because TV was junk and my TV was junk.

Then I got a job; then Miami Vice came on; then VCRs introduced the idea of watching when you wanted, and now TV was at my mercy, not the other way around. This continued until I got cable, and then I was right back to square one, sitting there for a couple of hours basking in the novelty of not watching anything more than 8 seconds of a show before moving on. In the morning, working from home, I turned on "Headline News" and it was on all morning in the background just like the game shows had been, without the applause and nods to Dicker and Dicker of Beverly Hills. Now I had the news on all the time in case there was NUCLEAR WAR, which we believed was imminent.

Now we have everything at all times, more or less. Top-quality shows in high definition on demand. I have episode 10 of Occupied to watch tonight. But when I came downstairs I toted up the day and I had not done enough. I had picked away at this and that, did an interview, wrote something at work, arranged 12 web pages, finished the architecture column for the paper, wrote the serial update for a month from now, and various sundry duties. But there was no single discrete thing I had done with a beginning, and end, and a point. Nothing that said I deserved TV. I used to think it didn't deserve me and now I think I have to do a certain amount of things before I deserve it.

Like what? Well, like this. I think that's 900 words.


Back we go to . . .



It's that illustrator again. The one who defined the late 60s and early 70s. I'm not sure "defined" is the right word, though - people think "Peter Max" when they think of influential groovy-era artists. But this guy was everywhere.



Here's some Jic Jac.

A fifties brand out of Missouri. It's been revived for some reason, and can be purchased on Amazon. It has many flavors, but I'll bet this stuff was Lemon-Lime. That's all you had. Lemon-Lime, Cola, Root Beer, and Orange. After that, forget it. Head south and hunt for a grape Nehi, if you're adventurous.




Welcome to week two of the 2nd 1930s Ads Month, held annually for no particular reason.

That's almost an anime-level disproportion:

Simple packaging, brilliantly effective: the package at the store referenced the ad by reproducing it entirely. That was the entire campaign: her.

The ol' contest, getting your hopes up every few months. You enter them all, don't you? You think you're going to win ever time, don't you?

. . . and she no longer cries out "Dear Jesus"

. . . it's the one pill that always pleases

. . . but it's pure crap at solving your sneezes


Marriages were always pitched on the rocks with terrifying speed in these ads"

"What in thunder" is a fine expletive.

Say, what's going on, here? Is he getting dressed? Was this some attempt at coitus that ended when she went board-stiff the moment his horrid, decaying breath gushed down on her?

"The charming love story of a woman who almost waited too long . . . before she dated admit that she was a woman."



Escaping to England from a French embezzlement charge, widower Henry Scarlett is accompanied by daughter Sylvia who, to avoid detection, "disguises" herself as a boy, "Sylvester." They are joined by amiable con man Jimmy Monkley, then, after a brief career in crime, meet Maudie Tilt, a giddy, sexy Cockney housemaid who joins them in the new venture of entertaining at resort towns from a caravan. Through all this, amazingly no one recognizes that Sylvia is not a boy...until she meets handsome artist Michael Fane, and drama intrudes on the comedy.

Not a role they would have given to Harlow.

This is sad. It's just sad.




Another 1935 movie. They had a certain theme going, didn't they?

See, there's this singing star named Victor, but he loses his voice, and a lookalike young lady takes the stage on his behalf, posing as him.

Sort of like Victor / Victoria.

Actually, that's exactly what it is.


This week's facial-pustule story:

The introductory line: Edna had too many pimples.


Her skin is terrible. Her skin provokes terror. But that's all? Heavens, a friend knows what to do.


This is where she should kick Wally right the nadules, don't you think?

She's happy now, certain Wally loves her for her deep inner character!

We started with Maybelline, and we'll end with it. You knowm the after looks like she has bugs on her eyes.

That'll do - see you around!


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