Life Without TV

colorbarsIt was back in late 2001 and I was chatting with a couple at a party. They were smirking at me because I said worked in TV. He and his wife were architects or rocket scientists or something. “Oh, we don’t watch TV.”

I’ve heard this before. People who don’t watch TV love to tell you about it —in fact, they’ll find a way to work it into the first five minutes of any conversation. It’s like the intellectual red badge of courage.

The topic turned to 9/11. The smart couple complained about TV news showing the towers collapsing again and again and again. I was curious. “I thought you don’t watch TV? How did you happen to see that over and over again?”

“Well, we keep a TV in the spare room. We only wheel it out if there’s something really big happening. Like on 9/11.”

But you don’t watch anything else? “Well, you know we’ll watch the Super Bowl. And sometimes we’ll rent movies. We don’t want our kid glued in front of it.”

Oh really? Time to throw out some bait. “You know, some TV is actually good for kids. Not all of it certainly, but some of it.”

The wife chimed in. “Oh, yes! Mostly it’s trash. That’s why we only let our daughter watch educational videos.”

For people who don’t watch TV it sounded like they watched a lot of TV.

In our house we decided a long time ago that there would only be one TV. This helps us keep tabs on what’s on and forces us all into one room. It’s not so easy now that you can watch stuff on your computer, the phone, the iPod.

As you can imagine there’s always a lot of negotiation. But now that football’s almost over you guys can watch whatever you like.

Eastern Standard Football Time

If you’re an early riser it’s not easy staying up to watch football games on Sunday and Monday night. It seems there’s an obvious solution: move to the West Coast.

Out there a Sunday night game that kicks off at 8:20pm starts at 5:20 so you can see the whole thing without ending up a zombie on Monday morning.

That’s not all. In the Pacific time zone you don’t have to sit around all morning waiting for football to start because the first game is on at at 10am. 10am! Imagine that. And this doesn’t mean making any sacrifices in your spiritual life. You could still go to nine o’clock mass and get home in time for for football —especially if you leave right after communion.

I mentioned this to my friend, Tom, and he said, “That’s nothing! I know a guy who lives in Hawaii; NFL games there start at 8am!”

Hmmm…8am? If my math is right (and it frequently isn’t) a game that ends here at 11:30pm would be over there at 6:30. That would actually leave you a few extra hours to do something else —or spend time with your family. Maui here I come.

Important Advice For Men #48

Gentlemen: if you’re going to say or do something stupid it’s best not do so when there are knives within reach. For example:

ROGERSVILLE, TN – A Hawkins County woman was charged Monday with aggravated domestic assault after she allegedly stabbed her husband in the face during an altercation while making lunch. The alleged victim, Jeremy Trent, told Hilton that he was in a verbal dispute with his wife when he called her an ugly name. Kingsport Times-News

SCRANTON, PA – A city woman was arrested early Tuesday for allegedly threatening her ex-husband with a knife. Katherine Miraval, 25, of Depot Street was charged with aggravated assault, burglary and reckless endangerment. Ms. Miraval allegedly woke Mr. Palomares by entering his bedroom with a 12-inch kitchen knife, saying they would either rekindle their relationship or both die. Scranton Times Tribune

WATERTOWN, NY – Renee E. Gokey, 38, of 235 Central St., was charged by Watertown police Tuesday with second-degree menacing, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree harassment, first-degree unlawful imprisonment and resisting arrest. Police alleged she punched her boyfriend, Robert C. Rennie, 38, in the back of the head, tackled him, pointed a large bowie knife and stated “I will kill you before you leave” during an incident in their

LAKE KATRINE, NY – A man was stabbed by his girlfriend Thursday morning but lied to investigators about who attacked him in an effort to protect the woman, according to the town police chief. The man, Adam Alo, 21, was stabbed with a steak knife in the upper chest and left arm and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to the town of Ulster Police Department. Alo’s girlfriend, Shaquan London, 20, of Leggs Mill Road, was arrested later in the day, charged with felony assault and sent to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, police said. Kingston Daily Freeman

AUSTIN, MN – A 21-year-old Austin woman is accused of slashing a man in the back with a knife, biting him in the chest and smashing his vehicle’s windows with a baseball bat Saturday night. Juana Viviana Lopez, is charged with single felony counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and making terroristic threats, as well as a lesser count of fourth-degree property damage. The man told police Lopez was upset because he still was married to a woman in Mexico. In a police interview, the man said he was almost asleep when Lopez attacked him. As he tried to get away, Lopez allegedly kicked him in the groin and grabbed a kitchen knife, saying, “I’m going to kill you.” He ran outside but was chased by Lopez for a block, the complaint says. Austin Post-Bulletin

Big Box Store

In my house we cling to the quaint old habit of reading stories to each other from the newspaper.

“Hmmm…It says here that Wal-Mart’s now selling caskets.”

My wife Ann nearly did a Danny Thomas spit take. She knew what I was thinking.

“I swear to God if you buy me at coffin at WalMart I’m going to come back and haunt you.”

big box

We’ve had this conversation before. To me a box is a box and since I’d sort of prefer to be cremated putting me in an expensive piece of furniture seems like a terrible waste. I’d be OK with a cardboard container or a Hefty bag or something. It’s been made clear that is she goes before I do -which is statistically improbable- she expects the best of everything: beautiful coffin, well-appointed funeral home, harpist…

“You get mad at me because I won’t use coupons at Price Chopper. —and now you don’t want me to shop around for something expensive like a funeral?”

Cue the stare.

I don’t believe in ghosts, but just in case I’d better pay attention to her wishes. By the way —I wonder if you buy one of those coffins they can pack your other purchases inside? Shipping an empty box also seems wasteful.

Man of a Certain Age

We were sitting at Regal Colonie Center waiting for Zombieland to begin. That’s when they showed an extended preview of the new Ray Romano show on TNT, Men of a Certain Age.

“I don’t really get what that show is supposed to be about,” my 14-year-old son said.

I consider it one of my most important jobs as a father to explain things and offer some context.

“Well, when guys get to be my age they start to worry about things. Their job. Their health. You know. Getting old. It’s basically guys being worried about getting old.”

He was listening.

“Your body changes, people pass away, there are disappointments. Disillusion. And sometimes you might you start thinking that your best days are behind you. You know, you can’t do all the stuff you used to do.”

There was exactly one perfectly timed beat before he responded.

“You don’t need to watch TV to see that, do you?”

Transylvania 6-5000

Remember the movie “Borat?” The village at the beginning of the film was supposed to be Kazakhstan, but the producers couldn’t find a place in Kazakhstan backwards enough to be Borat’s home town. So they went to Romania. And Romania is where I may be going next summer.

My wife’s family escaped from the Transylvania region of the Eastern European country before the communists took over —but she’s quick to remind you that her people were ethnic Hungarians, not Romanian. After all, Hungarians would never allow their trains to be a mess like those described here in the Rough Guide to Romania:

Tickets are incredibly cheap, but this is offset by the habitually derelict carriages, bizarre timetable and sweltering/freezing conditions. Often crowded, trains frequently lack light and water, making long journeys somewhat purgatorial.

OK, so the trains aren’t great —but how about the food? I’m looking forward to trying the muschi ciobanesc, which is pork stuffed with ham, covered in cheese, and served with mayo and cucumbers on the side. Mmmmmm… pork stuffed with ham.

Anyhow, an adventure like this takes planning so I hope you’ll join me here as I prepare for my journey to the armpit of Europe.

The Graduate

My son Zack is now a graduate of the eighth grade.

It’s a milestone because it marks the end of his tenure at the K-8 Catholic school he attends. All the kids will go their separate way so it’s different than just moving from the town’s middle school to the high school.

The staff and teachers did a great job of recognizing the student’s achievements and time together and capped it off with a nice graduation ceremony.

It was all well and good until somebody walked up and said, “Congratulations.”

Congratulations? I must have responded inappropriately because the person gave me that “You asshole” look that comes after saying something inappropriate. But come on —congratulations on making it through eighth grade?

Excuse me, but what is this, Arkansas —where graduating eighth grade is like getting your medical degree? So sorry if I sound like a jerk but you know what? You’d better graduate from eighth grade. Now go have a nice Summer.

That’s Funny…

I don’t remember saying I’d like another cat roaming around the house but someone brought this kitten home over the weekend. What am I going to do say, “Bring it back”?

You can’t tell from this picture but she has no tail. Maybe that’s why she was free.

Up in Smoke

My 13-year-old son claims he and his friends were hollered at for pretending to smoke in the schoolyard. It was a cold day so they held twigs up to their mouths and made like their breath was smoke. Can’t kids enjoy anything these days?

When I was little , we used to love candy cigarettes. From a candy standpoint they were not delicious with their weird chalky consistency, but who could beat the fun you had handing them around to your friends? Candy makers stopped calling them candy cigarettes at some point but you can still get them. I’m thinking I may buy some for next Halloween.

Lately there’s a huge uproar over kids pretending to smoke by crushing Smarties and then blowing Smarty powder out of their mouths. When I first heard about this I thought it was a hoax, but then news reports started emerging —and I found that the internet is full of videos of kids showing you how it works. It’s hilarious!


Before you start going off on me about kids learning to smoke by pretending to smoke (and I know you will) consider this: kids don’t grow up and do everything they pretend to do while playing. My friend Raymond T used to like pretending he was a werewolf and chasing after us through the neighborhood —and he’s never actually attacked anyone as an adult. It was great fun, and afterward we’d all relax with a candy cigarette.