Archive for the 'TV time-wasting' Category

Chinese butterfly earsheep

January 29, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Sarah has two new obsessions — rainbows and butterflies. We spent an hour the other day looking at Google Image results for the word “rainbow.” Only saw one tranny the entire time.

Then Sarah got really excited when I found a butterfly documentary on Netflix Instant. She climbed up on my lap to watch with me. Ten minutes in, there was a segment on butterfly sex, with the narrator remarking, “The female butterfly doesn’t want to mate, but the male engages in forced copulation.” Just another Butterfly Rape Wednesday at the Hicks house.

From my studious, regimented daily reading of the Wall Street Journal, I now know a Chinese mom would never let her kids look at rainbows or reverse-cowgirl butterfly sex, thanks to the article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” The piece is probably 2,000 words long and never once mentions the obvious answer — the Chinese probably make better moms because they’re only allowed to have one kid. I’ve got two kids and can barely keep up; I know a guy who can’t write his own name and has seven kids. I bet not a one of those seven practices violin for three hours a day.

Of course, I want the best for my own kids. I want to take advantage of opportunities and nurture their abilities. I need some of that Chinawoman mom discipline, applied first to my own life and then passed down to Sarah and Silas. Sarah seems to have natural talent for rhythm and dance, she can throw a ball at a predetermined target most of the time, and she’s becoming more masterful with letters, numbers and words.

Sarah runs words together now, too, which is adorable and entertaining. We had the Baby Mozart DVD on the other day while we were playing in Silas’s room, and Sarah said, “Look! Sheep!” I said, yep, that’s a sheep. And she said, “It’s got ears! Earsheep!” Which was just as clever as anything I could’ve come up with at the time. Two more years, and she’ll be ghostwriting this blog while dad sips Country Time in the backyard.

For those who don’t have very small children babysat by the TV set, Baby Mozart is a half-hour DVD that costs 15 bucks. Its music was all recorded free of copyright royalties by like two guys with synthesizers in a lady’s basement. Its visuals are still shots and action shots of toys and stuffed animals.

Cheap, simple, and Sarah has loved watching it since she was like 2 months old. The husband-wife team that made Baby Mozart sank $18,000 of their life savings to produce it, expanded it into the Baby Einstein franchise (Baby Bach, Baby Beethoven, Baby Hoobastank), then sold out to Disney a few years later and made buckets of money. They were geniuses, and though neither of them is Chinese, I suspect each was raised by a Chinese mother.


“American English is not to be confused with Antartican English which can only be translated by . .It is estimated by the that American English will be replaced by sometime before 1986…”

Late-night channel surfing

January 12, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Late one night, you’ll realize your wife is asleep, Child #1 is asleep, and Child #2 has finally settled into a restful slumber. You’ll go pee, you’ll clean up the kitchen a little, and you’ll realize you’ve got a moment that can be just about you. The things you enjoy. The things you treasure.

Like eating. You haven’t eaten in many hours, you finally realize. But it’s one in the morning, so you eat some of that Special K with the yogurt clusters, then you eat a cold chicken breast and piece of pasteurized, processed American.

And you realize you’re still not that tired, and you still have time to yourself. You think about how it’s late in the day and you haven’t written your blog yet, so you start writing a blog post. It’s serious, vague and full of platitudes. You hit the “enter” button about 30 times and banish it to the next page down the computer screen.

You turn on the TV. This is your primetime in the viewing day. When others are awake and talking and requiring attention, you don’t generally watch a lot of television, though it’s turned on for most of the waking hours. You see way more late-night talk shows than scripted, dramatized evening programming.

You want to find something interesting to watch, something entertaining, something light you can watch a few minutes of and head off to sleep. So you channel surf, and this is what you find at 1:16 am:

Channel 2 (ABC affiliate): An older, larger fellow is sitting next to his wife giving an infomercial testimonial about a vaccuum penis pump. Time spent watching: 38 seconds.

Channel 3 (CBS affiliate): Commercial for local nursing home gives way to Mario Lopez interviewing Randy Jackson on Extra. Randy says a nice word about new judge Steven Tyler. Time spent: 23 seconds.

Channel 4 (public access): Local woman preaches about Satan wanting to mess with your life because he knows his own days are numbered. Time spent: 19 seconds.

Channel 5 (local advertising): Infomercial for Joan Rivers beauty products. Yes, now people can spend good money to look beautiful like Joan Rivers. Time spent: 3.5 seconds.

Channel 6 (CW affiliate): Rerun of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” You pause long enough to ponder what it would’ve been like if the guy who played Worf had gotten the “Reading Rainbow” hosting gig instead of Lavar Burton. Of course, Worf would have done the popular kids show with that full, crazy triceratops head makeup. Time spent: 11 seconds.

Channel 7 (Fox affiliate): Commercial during syndicated rerun of “Entourage.” Time spent: 2 seconds.

Channel 8 (PBS affiliate): You just missed an “American Masters” episode devoted to Jeff Bridges. The channel surfing would likely have ended here had you arrived in time. Time spent: 2 seconds.

Channel 9 (WGN): Another syndicated rerun of “Entourage.” You haven’t had Showtime for four years now, so you’re only just now getting to see edited episodes of this show. It’s not bad, but it’s almost over. Time spent: 13 seconds.

Channel 10 (NBC affiliate): “Poker After Dark,” which always makes you wonder, Do we really need a “Previously, on Poker After Dark” recap montage in order to understand the current episode? Time spent: 9 seconds.

Channel 11 (HSN): You’re interrupted by a text from an unknown 618 number asking, “You at work man?” Spend the next two minutes texting this person explanations of why you are not at work and why you are not Jess. Because of this, you leave the TV on Home Shopping Network’s $300 offer for coin collectors. You see a 50-cent piece in the package and, yep, that’s a quarter. Shiny, too. Act now. Only 73 left. Time spent: 3 minutes.

Channel 12 (PBS affiliate): Another “American Masters” show, this one about The Doors. The Jim Morrison in their reenactments looks like a Geico caveman. Time spent: 28 seconds.

Channel 13 (QVC): OMG. Flannel sheets for sale from Liz Claiborne. Time spent: 1.5 seconds.

Channel 15 (CSPAN): Gov. Jan Brewer is speaking at the memorial service for shooting victims in Tucson, Ariz. You realize it’s too soon to crack a joke. Surf on. Time spent: 7 seconds.

Channel 16 (TV Guide): You quickly review the shows you’ve surfed by so far. Yup, they all sucked. Time spent: 39 seconds.

Channel 17 (Weather): 6 degrees outside right now but clear. Time spent: 4 seconds.

Channel 18 (Government Access): Also tells you it’s 6 degrees outside, but to the tune of a rollicking horn section. Time spent: 3 seconds.

Channel 19 (My49): Spike Lee favorite Bill Nunn is playing a karate master on “Everybody Hates Chris.” Wait, never mind. That guy doesn’t look a thing like Bill Nunn. You like Bill Nunn, though. He was the seventh lead in the first Sister Act. Time spent: 14 seconds.

Channel 22 (local educational): Cheaply produced tourist bait video touting the academic merits of the Cahokia Mounds. Time spent: 17 seconds.

Channel 24 (VH1): Mark McGrath hosting “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.” Time spent: 1 second.

Channel 25 (Nick at Nite): Every time you see the Nick at Nite logo, you mourn the channel that heaped genuine classic TV on adolescent Andrew. “Dick Van Dyke,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Bob Newhart,” “Get Smart,” “Bewitched,” not a 2004 Damon Wayans sitcom about his wife and kids. Time spent: 1 second.

You look at the clock. It’s 1:45. Someone will be waking you up for some reason sometime in the next 4 hours, guaranteed. You decide to go to sleep. Just as soon you edit and post the blog you just wrote about aimless channel surfing.


Our cat was a baby once, too.