The Reader's Eye on Television

Yes, sir, the mind is an amazing thing. The other day I was walking, enjoying the warm sun, and counting bits of litter, listening to cars, birds, and people on my street. As I got halfway up Wilson Street, one of the cars in my auditory landscape tripped an alarm in my head. I noticed the engine was gunned, and then there were the beginnings of tire squeal. I spun around, scanning for the racing automobile.

Around the corner, a red Toyota coupe came sliding sideways, its engine still revved, the squelching tires emitting puffs of white smoke.

Back to the power of the mind: I normally think in language; a voice in my head that speaks English in a tone and cadence somewhere between a dopey cartoon rabbit who's smashing up a baby bumblebee and the poetic drone of Charles Bukowski.

With a car screeching toward me and closing the distance between us by half every split second, my mind shifted from speaking English to a "will hurt/won't hurt" binary system.

Will hurt: bumper and grill of car hitting knees and ribs. Won't hurt: jumping onto lawn behind me, taking cover behind tree.

I dropped down into a wrestler's stance, one foot offset behind the other, knees bent, arms at the ready. I started calculating vectors and drift, velocity and acceleration without ever using those terms in my mind. The car spun right; I dodged left. Tree. Lawn. Grill. Bumper.

I coiled my legs, tucked my arms in, folded my ears down flat against the side of my head, ready to make like a rabbit and spring to safety. Then the wailing of the tires got louder, the smoke got denser, and the car did a 180, spun, and squealed away from me.

I let my retracted breath out in a measured exhale and my mind switched from "will hurt/won't hurt" to its usual voice. The car door blew open and the driver, on foot, broke out into a sprint across a front lawn and hurdled a side-yard gate. I thought, He's either concerned for an injured child or I'm about to be one of the bystanders on a real-life version of COPS.

In slid a black-and-white squad car and out jumped a lady cop with a Magnum P.I. haircut but no mustache. She radioed in her position and direction and gave chase to the mad runaway driver.

I went back to smelling flowers and walking in the sun.

Yes, sir, the mind is an amazing thing.

Thursday, March 29 Inside Dish With Rachael Ray FOOD 9:30 a.m. I'd like to eat a koala. Koalas seem like their natural niche is as prey. Slow-moving. Meaty. They're fuzzy hamburgers in trees.

Spring Cleaning QVC 6:00 p.m. Tucking a pillow into its case is the most demeaning act one can perform. There's no dignified way to do it, you've got to clamp that thing down between your chin and neck like a bullfrog with a goiter, and you've got to shimmy shimmy shimmy. How humiliating.

Friday, March 30 House Fox 8:00 p.m. I've completed my own exploratory brain surgery that I wrote about a few weeks ago. I thought I had African Wasting Disease, so I drilled into my head and dug around with a sanitized chopstick. I didn't find the disease, and even though I pee my pants when my cell phone rings, I'm saying the surgery was a success because I can set fires with my mind now.

Saturday, March 31 The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Nickelodeon 8:30 a.m. Some day I'll be governor of Robotifornia. Oh, won't it be majestic when I float by in my hover machine and all the decommissioned electric cars stand at attention to salute me as I pass? I hope scandal and corruption aren't out of style by then, or, maybe if they are, I'll be a retro official, a throwback to the old Roman Empire days we live in now.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward FOX 9:00 a.m. Why the hell doesn't Pez pay any attention to the "body" part of the dispenser? The illusion that you're eating chalky lemon candies spit up by Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is kind of blown when you notice that his body isn't that of a turtle at all, but a slim blue plastic container with a grossly enlarged head. I'm starting a letter-writing campaign. This is important.

Sunday, April 1 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ABC 8:00 p.m. I want to install Prince, circa Purple Rain , in my bedroom. I want a five-foot-tall glass case where my TV cabinet is now with the tiny androgynous rocker inside. It'll be a Prince aquarium. He'll have all the comforts of home: his purple motorcycle, a little lake, a keyboard girl, and his guitar. I'll feed him green leaves I find around the neighborhood. I hear he likes to be petted but can be vicious. I'll have to figure out a glove-and-stick method of giving him attention. There'll be light shows and things, too.

Monday, April 2 The O'Reilly Factor FSN 8:00 p.m. Every once in a while, I tune in to The O'Reilly Factor to see how the other half thinks. The other night Bill was censuring proponents of efforts to slow global warming. While he was yelling, "Why should we spend billions of dollars on something we might not have any control over?!" the scroll at the bottom of the screen read, "President asks for $2.2 billion for peace efforts in Middle East." Oh, irony, thy name is Fox News.

Tuesday, April 3 Dr. Phil CBS 3:00 p.m. Some mornings I wake up and it's all I can do to keep from buying a pair of adult pull-up diapers, dancing in my kitchen, and singing, "I'm a big kid now!" Put that squirrel in your crock-pot and slow cook it, Dr. Phil. I am messed up and loving it, baby!

Wednesday, April 4 Bloodlines: The Dracula Family Tree History 4:00 p.m. Oh, God. Oh, dear God. I will tune in with my fingers crossed and my eyes squinted in anticipation. My phone will be off. The TV volume will be at its highest level, and I will sit and wait, impatiently, for the narrator to say, "A wandering group of Italians with the surname Olivieri was taken into the dark count's hereditary web and carry the vampire gene to this day." Oh, please!

Thursday, April 5 Happy Birthday Elton MyTV 8:00 p.m. Is it, Knight of Great Britain, Sir Elton John's birthday already? I didn't even get him a card, and we spent all those years together. We first met in Knights' Academy where he confessed his true feelings to me: "I don't want to be a knight. I want to dress like a color-blind pimp and play a giant white piano." How fickle fate can be that later, after we'd dropped out to tour in his rock-and-roll review, we would both receive our knighthood from the queen --

the real queen, mind you, not Freddie Mercury and Brian May, but the old gasbag in the tiara. Elton, I am sorry I missed this birthday. Next year, old friend. Next year.

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