Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day, Go Outside!

My sister and I weren't allowed to watch too much TV growing up. It could be because our parents were teachers, although maybe they just wanted to save money on the electric bill.

My parents weren't Amish about it or anything, they just had certain rules. No TV (except for the news or 60 Minutes) during dinner, and very, very limited TV during the daytime. Whenever I mention the "no TV during dinner" rule to people they act like we were from Little House on the Prarie days.

"So what did you guys do while you were eating?"

"I dunno, I guess we just talked. Argued. Passed food around. Whatever normal families did."

"But you didn't watch TV?"

"Not while we were eating, no."

"Were you one of those weird families who had to complete logic puzzles at the dinner table? Did you have to go around the table and give dissertations on current events? Did you share craft projects?"

"We weren't the Tannenbaum family. We just ate. Like normal people around a table. Only we weren't watching Wheel of Fortune at the time."

It's still weird to me when I go to someone's parent's house and they bust out the TV trays. "I suppose I shouldn't say anything," I think. "Maybe they're too poor to have a dining room table, or they've really been anticipating this hour of E programming. Best not to say anything and go along with it."

But if that rule freaks people out, not being able to watch TV during the day really blows their mind. I'm not sure if that was an actual stone tablet rule or anything, or we were just hassled into going outside or given work whenever we were caught watching TV during daylight hours. I do remember an exception was made for Creature Feature every Saturday at 2:00 if I got my chores done, so thanks for that one, Mom and Dad.

So did my parent's TV rules affect us? I'm not really sure. I do know that my sister has a TV in every room in her house, and I almost always watch TV while I'm eating. And I'm generally watching something that I first saw on Creature Feature.

If I'm not eating, I get sort of weirded out watching TV during the daytime. I've gotten over this feeling by eating constantly, but you know those lazy Sundays where you watch football for 5 hours or watch whatever crappy movies TBS decides to run on a constant loop? I can't do that. If the sun is shining, and I'm trying to watch TV, it just freaks me the hell out.

It doesn't help that TV knows that. That's why they show crap on Saturday and Sunday during the day. I don't know if they made a deal with my parents years ago or what, but those days are where they dump all those terrible movies made from TV shows or syndicated shows like Mama's Family that exist in their own phantom time; where the sets look like a high school play and it's impossible to tell if the show was filmed in 1987, 1996 or 2008.

This is TV messing with you. "Why aren't you doing something," The television asks. "We can play this crap all day. You know you can't win. You're not going to catch Jaws or an episode of Arrested Development or even a cool nature documentary. It's going to be episodes of Charles in Charge and Rob Schnider movies all day long. Now don't you want to go outside? Isn't there some work you should be doing?"

No matter how I try to fight, I realize TV will win, as it usually does.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 the Future

Best question this week:

"Where would I find, you know, stuff. Like time machines. Like to go back to the days of like Billy the Kid?"

"Third Floor."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Badge of Dishonor

Free Comic Book Day was sometime last month. This is a day when comic book stores use the lure of free comic books (usually stuff like Archie and the gang teaching you how to brush your teeth) in an attempt to ensnare a new generation of nerds to replace those who have managed to escape by talking to girls. This has become so successful that record stores have tried it, launching Record Store Day. While I kid the nerds, I hope both days are successful, as I recognize them as my brothers and sisters, and will gladly stand arm in arm with them when the time comes. Well, maybe not arm in arm. Have you ever been to a record show? Those people smell terrible. But I will offer much moral support.

In honor of Free Comic Book Day, my friend Keith made me this snazzy button. Here, check it out:

I should probably mention that Keith was our children's librarian.

Apparently in the comic, the Nazi ape saw something so awful that he puked in a rather spectacular fashion. Think about that for a minute. Something was so disgusting that a Nazi officer gorilla threw up. What could that be? Love? Friendship?

All I know is that I now have a button to wear whenever the occasion calls for it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ever Get that Not-So-Fresh Feeling?

Got back from a library conference in Washington, D.C. last week. I had never been before. Got to check out some museums, saw some bands and monuments, and kept seeing the Capitol Dome looming down the street from the motel. Naturally, it reminded me of that Bad Brains cover.

D.C. is hot and humid. Really, really hot and humid. I knew that before, but figured, "Hey, I'm from Florida. How hot can it really be? I'll run a marathon up there, just to show those Washington fat cats they can't push me around."

That was not the case. My clothes were constantly soaked. I went out to see the monuments one night around 10 o'clock and I was still bathed in sweat, but you know, I'm an American, so I couldn't let the humidity and heat stop me from checking that stuff out. And hanging out at the Lincoln Memorial with a big group of tourists with the Washington Monument in front of me and the full moon to the right made me want to give my own "I have a dream" speech, so it was worth it.

On the last day, I woke up early, saw author Dennis Lehane give a really good speech, then took off for the airport. I'm naturally oily and sweaty, and airports and trains and stuff always make me a bit nervous, thinking that I'm going to lose my boarding pass, or I'll be shipped off to Guantanamo for trying to carry too much toothpaste on board or something, so I was not at my freshest. Oh yeah, and I had pretty much worn the same pair of jeans for most of the trip.

I get to the Jacksonville airport to my car with its half-assed air conditioner and find I can't get out of the economy lot. So I wait and wait until they send someone to manually take my credit card and let me go home. Meanwhile, I'm sweating like a pig.

You know how when you bring home a pizza or something and then a day later you get in the car and it still smells like delicious pizza? Yeah, that's awesome. Well, a bit later I got in the car to go somewhere and notice this smell. Not overpowering, but definitely nothing you'd want to subject anyone else to.

Somehow all my stink and sweat had seeped into the car and was reminding me what a horrible smelling person I can be if left to my own devices. It aired out after a couple of hours, but it was yet another reminder that I should not be around respectable people.