Thursday, August 22, 2002

The Idiot Box

People are often surprised to learn exactly how much time I spend watching television. There's this strange idea that you have to be unintelligent, uncultured, and uneducated in order to sit in front of the TV for several hours at a time. Maybe that's true... and I like to be unintelligent for several hours at a time, to turn off those portions of my brain that have been overexerted in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom and a paycheck. Television is the ultimate passive entertainment, and I find passivity very relaxing. And in the passivity, I can rest my eyes on lots of very pretty people, occasionally hear a good song or funny joke, and keep tabs on the goings-on of popular culture.

But some days, I notice my passive enjoyment marred by a sense of overwhelming disbelief... I might even go so far as to call it incredulity. I will sometimes settle on a TV show encountered during a channel-surf, and can't for the life of me imagine a) that somebody came up with the idea for this show, b) that people are desparate enough for fame and fortune to appear on this show, and c) that people actually sit down and watch this show on purpose, even when there are other things on.

One such show is called, I think, Dog Eat Dog. When I caught parts of it on NBC last night, it appeared to be a vote-off panel game-show involving pseudo-celebrities; now, I must establish at the onset that this voting-off business leaves me cold, and I find it disturbing that all new gameshows feature this method of elimination (I remember the goode olde days, when contestants were eliminated because they failed to correctly answer a question or guess a mystery). I should also start out stating that the only reason I even paused at channel 13 (Cable Oakland's designation for NBC-3, since HBO is already on channel 3) was because I saw this really hot guy with green eyes wearing a green tanktop over a pair of pumped and perky pecs.

From the few host/contestant comments that filtered through the internal clamor of my Hottie Alarm, I gathered that this hottentot was a former contestant on Temptation Island. It was about halfway through the show, and he was one of three remaining contestants. The other two contestants had voted him off, and so he had to perform a challenge in order to stay in the game (I'm just guessing here, I really didn't stick around long enough to understand how the game worked). The Hottentot's challenge was to make himself cry; he had to produce a tear that had enough volume to clear his eye by at least one inch, within ninety seconds. I lingered, of course, because this challenge required that we focus on Hottentot's face, which was absolutely dreamy.

All the while that Hottentot was trying to produce a tear (by concentrating really hard on unpleasant thoughts, apparently... you could almost see the smoke coming out of his ears), there were these other people trying to distract him by telling idiotic jokes and making fun of him. I gathered, after the Hottentot failed to weep, that these voices were the people who had already been voted off and were now occupying the "Dog Pound." And then I saw who was in the Dog Pound, and I just about plotzed! It was Richard Hatch, that tired evil queen from the first season of Survivor (who, apparently, regained all of his weight), and that strange sub-celeb Kato Kaelin from the OJ Simpson Show Trial (along with some other people I didn't recognize). I was absolutely floored to see two such horrors in one place.

Well, eventually the camera came off Hottentot and his glorious yummitude, then the two remaining contestants (both women, neither attractive) changed into swimwear in order to do the next part of the game (I shudder to think what that might have been), and so I changed channels. By the time I had completed a full 60-channel sweep (when there's nothing on, I just change channels and absorb bits and pieces of everything from KTVU/Fox Channel 2 to the Disney Channel), the end of the game was upon us. The Hottentot was again in the frame, and so I stopped. He was being asked a trivia question about a recent Broadway musical that was loosely based on La Bohème... the answer was Rent, of course (even I knew that), but he didn't know, and so after another few minutes focused on his lovely face and its obviously unaccustomed thought-production, the camera moved back to take in the rest of the contestants, and I got up to go to the bathroom.

It was all very surreal and bizarre. All the water, all the unlikely people, all the strange challenges, all the plain old senselessness of it all! Now having written all of this, I am curious to know more about the show, so I am going to go do some Google-searching to see if I can find out what it's all about. In the meantime, ogle this:

Okay, so the show is in fact called Dog Eat Dog, and is apparently the unholy offspring of Weakest Link (which I like, because of the trivia and Anne Robinson, but dislike because of the voting-off thing) and Fear Factor (which is probably the most juvenile thing I've ever witnessed, relying all too heavily on bungee-jumping and fraternizing with exotic bugs). I still don't understand the rules, though am surprised that I figured out so much of it while only watching one boy (whose name, I discover now, is Kaya Wittenberg).

Wierd. As if there weren't enough wierdness in the world. But then, I often think it is the wierdness that makes this world worthwhile. Wowee!

So anyway, I just wanted to share that with you.

In other news, my teeth are becoming accustomed to the pain, and so I don't feel the hurt so much. My boss has extended the deadline of the newsletter, and also authorized me to go to six pages instead of the usual four (which saves me from having to squeeze the text any smaller). So now all I have to do is come up with an old filler article and format the whole thing while I wait for her edits on one of the extant articles... which I probably won't get any time soon and will probably, when I do get them, totally screw up my spacing and formatting. The phones are ringing off the hook, and both my coworkers are out of the office (one on medical leave and one with a family emergency), and I am just barely managing not to freak out.

The Boss-Lady's Foster Baby is with us again today, as well, and fussing rather more than I think necessary. But then, it's better than when Boss-Lady and Mr. Boss-Lady bring the dogsin (they had two dogs; one of them, a Chesapeake retriever of unbelievable antiquity, died two months ago; they didn't want the second dog, a tiny Sheltie, to pine at home, so they brought her into the office... where she barked every time the phone or doorbell rings, jumped around excitedly every time Boss-Lady moved, and lurked behind my chair with her dogtags jingling with each breath).

Well, off to lunch... today I have Campbell's Select Chicken Vegetable and a banana for lunch. Yummy-ummy-um! And speaking of yummy...

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