The Reader's Eye on Television

If you buy two seats on a bus through Cambodia, one to keep your bag and knees on, the other for your butt, you might as well slap every other person on that bus right in the face. Over the trouncing potholes that rattle the teeth and slam the crown of your skull into the window plate, the bus travels, and the passengers eye you with rage.

Rich American buys two seats. One for his bag. My daughter could've ridden there.

Fat American. Look how his ass takes both places.

I memorize the azure and gold plaid pattern on the fabric in front of me and wind an errant string from it around my index finger. Bounce. The bus slams into another pothole.

The only thing that is more interesting to my fellow travelers than me is the TV situated above the driver. On every jounce the DVD stops playing, shows a blue screen, and skips to the next segment. Sin City plays intermittently. For a reason I can't understand, the movie is subtitled in English. Wouldn't they rather have it subtitled or dubbed, either one, in Cambodian? The thought rumples my brow, but I watch the snippets of movie anyway.

Marv is caught by the hookers. He says, "You guys are like a kick to the nuts," and below him, in white lettering it reads, "You guys are like cake on tenants."

Must be a pirate version of the film. The disc skips and it shows the blue screen again. A monk in orange robes gets on and I have to wave him off of my decadent second seat by showing him both of my tickets. The bus eases out and, stumbling down the aisle, he finds a seat in the rear.

Marv unties the knots binding his hands, and Gail remarks, "How could that be? I tied those ropes myself!" The caption reads, "How do I pee? I typed those notes myself!"

I turn to the woman across the aisle from me, and she glares and shakes her head. I can read her mind. Fat American. Lazy American. Rich American. She angles from me in disgust and watches the movie and the blue screen trade places on the monitor with each concussion of the tires, shocks, and springs.

My dome crashes against the gossamer curtain and glass behind it. Pothole.

An electric horn blast from the driver at a wayward ox in the road obscures the sound and I miss the audible line, but beneath Marv his words are written, "I've been tupping with Thundercats all night!"

Another bounding jolt and another glare from the woman and I've got six more hours before I reach Phnom Penh.


Thursday, March 2

Sex and the City

WGN 8:00 p.m. To answer your question, I slept on the couch because of what was I going to do, throw you out in the middle of the night. I had had enough. It was over and we both knew it. I needed the light of morning breaking the darkness of my front room to admit it, and I'm glad you left. I burrowed back beneath the blankets where you were, and I listened to your car start before I fell asleep.

101 Things Removed From the Human Body

TLC 8:00 p.m.

I'm interested to see what's taken over the top spot since Lawn Darts were banned.

Friday, March 3

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

CMT 8:30 p.m. On our flight to Bangkok, Ron and I drank hooch from a flask and listened to East Bound and Down on his iPod. It seemed fitting. I wore a cowboy hat and danced in the aisle until a stewie told me to sit back down.

Saturday, March 4

Altered States (1980)

AMC 3:15 a.m. The smell of crystal meth from my neighbor's house is so strong, I can catch a whiff from my parking spot in the alley. Fumes cross the back porch, and rows of black garbage bins and the thick chemicals meet my nostrils and take me back to my 20s, when I would hole up in a dark bedroom and follow trails of yellow powder across mirrors and nightstands to the shuttered windows. I would tell lies all weekend long.

Late Night With Conan O'Brien

NBC 3:34 a.m. A group of drunken kids in the corner booth complain loudly about their jobs. "Someone should tell them to pace themselves," I say to the waitress. "They've got another 40 years of work. They're going to get all their bitching done in one night." The waitress rolls her eyes and sighs, "Forty years at least." A glop of cottage cheese lands on my shirt and the clock with the neon around its face radiates down that it's 3:33 a.m.

On the way out of the booth one of the girls knocks her Pepsi over and exclaims, "This is, like, the worst restaurant ever."

At the register I wonder how many rolls of mint-flavored Lifesavers they sell from the light- up glass case beneath the counter.

Sunday, March 5

Recipe for Success

FOOD 2:30 p.m. There's nothing so fine as a well-built club sandwich and nothing so obnoxious as a sloppy one. Cooks, take heart and heed, and make your next club golden.

Monday, March 6

Dr. Wayne Dyer: Inspiration, Your Ultimate Calling

PBS 9:30 p.m. Dr. Wayne Dyer is an ass. He is a large, well-rounded, fuzzy-in-the-middle-and-around-the-cheeks ass. I imagine he was an ass as a child and I don't foresee his advancing years projecting him any further along the spectrum beyond his current station, which is the notch marked "ass".

Tuesday, March 7

The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction

UCSD 8:00 p.m. Another show dedicated to reading the sign above the aisle in Borders where one might find The Da Vinci Code . This show is an HOUR AND A HALF. What are they planning to do for the other 89 minutes and 58 seconds?

Wednesday, March 8


NOGN 8:30 p.m. What the hell ever happened to Brandy? If she's one of those child stars who pisses away her money and starts robbing liquor stores, she'll be easy to catch. The shop owner will just have to pick out of a lineup the girl whose eyes are on the side of her head like a crab.

Thursday, March 9

Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island

CBS 8:00 p.m. It's about air, food, and sex. If you think it's about fashion or industry or culture or some other contrivance of society, then you are wrong. Air. Food. Sex. It's been that way since we were cavemen, and it will be that way until after the steel suspension bridges and lace-up corsets have all been torn down and we return to being cavemen.

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