The Reader's Eye on Television

For some reason I wanted an old fashioned, hang-up paper calendar. I'd never had one before. I always relied on people telling me if the date was closer to Martin Luther King's birthday or Hanukah. I'm usually content to stand in line at the bank and ask, "Is it Friday?"Saturday night I started harassing The Girl to get me a calendar on her trip to the grocery store. She returned without one.

Getting drunker and drunker on bourbon, I eyed the empty pale rectangle on the wall and I cursed her, "You can't help me out? All I wanted was a damn calendar."

"Settle down," she hissed and reached for my glass. "We'll get one tomorrow. We have to get cookies and wine for New Year's anyway. The Ultimate Fighting Championship's coming on. Get drunk and watch that, please."

She was at least making sense, even if she'd failed me.

The fights were good. My bourbon was smoky. Tito Ortiz got knocked out and so did I. Chuck Liddell successfully defended his title as Light Heavyweight Champion of the world.

After The Girl cooked breakfast and I brushed the dreadlocks off my teeth, we headed out for the store. "Wine and cookies," I muttered to a store clerk. "And a damn calendar. The ugliest one you've got."

"I don't think we have any ugly calendars. These are all so nice," the hefty black lady in the red apron said and ran her hand over the white spinning rack.

"Are you kidding me," I shouted at the clerk's back. "These are amazingly hideous. I just have to find the perfect one."

The Girl held up a shrink-wrapped tablet for my inspection. "This one's pretty bad. It's got a baby deer for January. 'God's Creatures' it's called."

"That's pretty bad," I agreed and held up my own. "But, here. Look. 'Seasons.' Oh, there's a red barn in a field, and a snowy tree."

She took it from me and inspected it. "That's pretty bad," she said, and held her animal calendar up. "But, look. The animals have Psalms printed on them."

I tapped the front of the "Seasons" calendar. "Emily Dickinson poems, here," I said.


"I know." I held both options up to imagine how each would look on my wall. "I feel like these are both contenders," I said. "But, somewhere, the real champ is hiding."

The Girl emerged from behind the rack with a "Puppies in People's Outfits" calendar and said, "We have found our Chuck Liddell."

Thursday, January 4 Spin City

FX 9:00 a.m Who said that? Who said "Shake City?" That's mean. Michael J. Fox is handing out one-way tickets for an eternity in the Hot Place and whoever piped up with that little joke gets cuts to the head of the line. Dreamgirls: Divas Drama and Destiny

VH1 8:00 p.m. A block from my place is a gunshot and g-string, five-and-dime, nudie club called The Minx. All this week there's been a man in a Santa outfit out front, hailing potential customers. Ah, strip-club owners. Is there a depth to which they won't sink?

Friday, January 5 Common and Will.i.am Present: Freedom Writers Live

MTV 8:00 p.m. My dad got off the new-music bus about 1979. His last purchase was a Kenny Rogers 8-track. He didn't understand and didn't like '80s music so he quit. I think it's time for me to do the same. I've got my Soundgarden tape. I'll be in the garage if anyone needs me.

Saturday, January 6 Critter Gitters

KUSI 1:30 p.m. Here's a great indication that you have a chemical dependency problem: Critter Gitters comes on and you don't give a damn. Your craphouse hangover prevents you from reaching for the remote so you settle into a half hour of whatever-the-hell-this-is. Call someone. If you've ever seen this show. Call someone and tell them you want to quit. Critter Gitters is step one.

When Innocence Is Lost

Lifetime 7:00 p.m. I remember when my innocence was lost. It's probably the same story everyone tells. I wore Laura Ingles pigtails. There was a fake leg and a glass of merlot. That poor frog was purple for a week. Try explaining that to the bicycle mechanic who has to fix your handlebar light. Ah, to be 26 again.

Sunday, January 7 American Dad

Fox 8:30 p.m. My father told my brother and me, "Whoever washes his hands first gets to plug in the Christmas tree." We raced into the bathroom, ran our hands under the water, jostling each other and fighting for the bar of soap. "YOU FOOL!" I cried as my brother stopped to dry his hands and I ran into the front room. I did a knee slide past the coffee table and gifts, and then clutched the green light string plug in one hand and the extension cord in the other. My eyes lit up like an Elvira pinball machine and I shot backward three feet, having just tasted 110 volts AC. My dad looked down at my smoking hands and hair and said, "Dumb bastard. I bet you won't do that again."

Monday, January 8 Gay, Straight or Taken?

Lifetime 8:00 p.m. Lifetime Channel, you are doing a bang-up job. Where would we be without you? (If you listen carefully on a quiet Monday night, you can almost hear an entire nation roll its eyes.)

Tuesday, January 9 Dateline NBC: Bigamy Murder

NBC 8:00 p.m. I'm trying to convince the girlfriend that I need her plus two wives. She's been reluctant so far, but I'm breaking her down steadily. I think I got through to her the other day with "You won't have to do the dishes anymore. One of them will handle all the cleaning." I wonder if Mormon girls can cook.

The 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards

CBS 9:00 p.m. The 33rd Annual Self-Congratulations-A-Palooza What Do You Love About Me Show

Thursday, January 11 40 Things You Didn't Know About the Super Bowl

ESPN 9:30 p.m. I know that seven-layer dip is delicious. Everything else about the Super Bowl is a list of inconsequential details.

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