Clicking through the channels on a summer evening in Re-run Hell:
CLICK. Oh, God. Not him again. James Earl Jones for the C&P Yellow Pages. What's the story with this guy? Every time I turn the freaking channel, he's there. Never saw anyone get so worked up over a phone book. They'd probably have to put him in a straitjacket if he hawked, oh, refrigerator magnets.
CLICK. HBO movie. Say, here's something you don't see on TV every day: a car chase, with one guy shooting at another guy. The good guy's a hard-bitten detective. The bad guy's a drug dealer. No wonder the channel costs extra.
CLICK. Baseball. No, my mistake. It's the Orioles. They're playing the White Sox. O's are what, 200 games out of first place? And Memorial Stadium is packed. Team must be herding fans in at gunpoint.
CLICK. Beach volleyball. Two incredibly blond, lean, tanned guys play two other incredibly blond, lean, tanned guys. Everyone in the crowd is incredibly blond, lean, tanned. Don't tell me the government isn't involved in genetic experiments.
CLICK. The most frightening show on TV: Home shopping network. Hostess is peddling a set of four porcelain cats. Incredibly, a caller expresses interest in the knickknacks. Hostess somehow manages to suppress gales of laughter and congratulates caller on her good taste.
CLICK. Commercial for 100 percent pure Florida orange juice. I notice my hands are shaking violently. Delayed stress from seeing porcelain cats? I make a mental note to call doctor for check-up.
CLICK. What the . . .? MTV video. Skinny guy with tattoos and guitar is thrusting his groin at the camera while bimbo-in-training in a flimsy negligee reclines seductively on nearby bed, brandishing a bullwhip. You gotta love that family entertainment. And they wonder why I didn't spring for the Disney channel.
CLICK. It's HIM! James Earl Jones. Nine out of 10! Nine out of 10! MAKE HIM STOP! MAKE HIM STOP!
CLICK. Pro wrestling. One guy hits the other guy with a tire iron. Then he drops a safe on his head. Then he runs over him in his car. Referee, as usual, is looking the other way. These refs might as well climb in the ring with a cane and a guide dog.
CLICK. Pan American Games. Right-wingers had a point: We should have had Castro knocked off when we had the chance. Now he's getting his revenge.
CLICK. "Murphy Brown." Tell me, what's the appeal here? Cranky, middle-aged woman over-reacts to every situation, screams at her colleagues and throws a daily tantrum in the newsroom. Worsening coke habit? Early menopause? Call me sexist, but I'll go with Door No. 1.
CLICK. A documentary on sea nettles. And they wonder why public TV is dying.
CLICK. Pre-season football. Raiders and Cowboys. Zzzz. Where's a Yellow Pages spot when you need it?
CLICK. Hmmmm, movie about a psychopath stalking a terrified starlet. Now she's going to sleep with the bedroom window wide open! Sweetie, at least make it interesting. He'll be firing up the Homelite before you hit the REM stage.
CLICK. It's HIM! Nine out of . . .
CLICK. The second most frightening program on TV: "Nashville Now." Good ole boy in standard-issue cowboy hat and rhinestones warbling upbeat tune about losing his job, his wife cheating on him, his dog getting run over by a train. These country singers must gobble fistfuls of Prozac like they're cocktail peanuts.
CLICK. Larry King! PLEASE, MAKE HIM GO AWAY!
CLICK. A rap video. Cool! I mean, uh, def! Heavy D and the Boyz. They don't call him Heavy D 'cause he's quoting Kierkegaard, either. Yo, Heavy D! Think about a Dannon Light every once in a while! Nice video, but the ending's a stretch: 300-pound guy in a lime-green raincoat and knickers (swear to God) walks off with beautiful chick. Meanwhile, she's looking at him like he's Denzel Washington. Honey, two words: glaucoma test.
CLICK. No, it can't be! "Beauty and the Beast!" Is it me, or did anyone else have a problem with the basic premise here? Beautiful babe falls for brooding, poetry-spouting half-man, half-lion who hangs out in sewers? If you say so.
CLICK. Weather channel. A high-pressure system's sweeping down from Canada.
Might be time to pick up a book.
Can I hear an "Amen"?