Cutting bait, he moves on to cooking

February 17, 2000|By Kevin Cowherd

UNTIL RECENTLY, I was pretty much convinced that fishing was the most boring activity in the world.

For me, fishing is always this: You bait the hook, throw the line in the water, and that's about it, action-wise.

Because most of the time, the fish aren't biting.

So you end up staring at the water for hours and getting a headache from the sun.

And then you go home.

Anyway, as I said, I didn't think anything could be more boring than that.

But I was wrong. Because if you think fishing is boring, try watching these fishing shows on TV.

With all these shows, the format is pretty much the same.

Basically what you see are two guys in a boat in the middle of a lake.

At least one of the guys generally has a Southern accent and is working a chaw of Red Man tobacco in one cheek.

And both guys are always wearing aviator shades, the kind of shades that automatically make you look like a Georgia state trooper.

Apparently, there's some kind of law where they won't let you on these fishing shows without shades.

Anyway, for the rest of the show, mostly what you see are two guys holding their rods and bantering back and forth while absolutely nothing happens.

And this banter, as you might expect, is not exactly riveting: "Skip, I'm guessin' they're over there."

"Could be right, partner."

"See that big ol' log over there?"

"Uh-huh."

"They like to hide under there, fill their bellies."

"Yup, I 'spect they do."

Then, every once in a while, one of the guys will actually hook a fish, which always seems to startle them.

For an instant, you'll see a flash of silver as the fish leaps out of the water. Then they'll show a shot of one of the guys netting the fish.

And that's about it for action.

For the rest of the show, the guys go back to staring at the water and bantering about where they're going to eat that night.

I'm telling you, it'll put you to sleep faster than a Bill Bradley speech.

Then the other night, I watched a fishing show on the Outdoor channel that took boring to a whole new level.

This time, the two guys fishing were Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight and sports broadcasting legend Curt Gowdy.

Now you might think having celebrities would make your average fishing show livelier. But it sure didn't in this case.

Most of the show was standard fare: Knight and Gowdy standing in the boat, doing a little casting and a lot of bantering, with Knight inexplicably addressing Gowdy as "Dr. Curt." (As if Gowdy were the head of neurosurgery at a hospital somewhere.)

Then, toward the end of the show, things really sank to a new low.

First, they actually showed the two men walking over to a log and sitting down.

So now you're thinking: OK, it can't get any worse than this. It can't get worse than two guys sitting on a log.

But it did.

Because a couple of minutes later, they showed the two men napping.

Yes, napping!

On the riverbank!

Swear to God!

There was Knight stretched on his side on a sleeping bag, big gut heaving, flies buzzing around him like he'd been dead for two days.

And there was Gowdy next to him, seemingly out like a light, too.

It was, in retrospect, an absolutely incredible sight.

Watching it, a feeling of overwhelming sadness came over me.

I thought: "Can you believe this? My social life has declined to such an extent that I'm actually sitting here watching two guys sleep on TV."

Let's face it, it's bad enough watching someone fish.

But watching someone sleep my God!

If that isn't a clarion call to get a life, I don't know what is.

So for now, at least, I've sworn off fishing shows.

In fact, I've moved on to something completely different: cooking shows.

Two people standing over a stove staring at a saucepan and a bottle of Mazola corn oil -- now that's entertainment.

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