Adventures in the Basic Cable Wasteland

Over the past week or so, my cranky back has rendered me almost completely sedentary. Unable to get comfortable on either of the living room couches, I've been forced to spend most of my days in the bedroom, where the TV (the same 19" I bought with my paper route money when I was 13) only gets channels up to 65. So without the digital box or its onscreen channel menu, I spent more time flipping through the channels looking for things to watch. I came across some things that I had no idea were even on TV (or why, for that matter). This is just part of what I've come across over the past week or so.

5. Rocky Marathon on Spike. Over the last week or so, I've become convinced that Spike only shows CSI reruns and Stallone movies, although I did see ads for Van Damme movies and some sort of UFC fight featuring a rather large gentleman named Kimbo Slice. However, during the day that I watched Spike as I segued in and out of a pain/drug induced haze (depending entirely on how recently I'd taken my pain killers) all I saw was Rocky. They apparently ran the first five Rocky movies back to back, which was just fine with me as I was only half paying attention. It all kind of seemed like one movie to me. Rocky collects money for a loan shark, romances a pet store clerk (in a special ed kind of way), gets a shot at the title, eats raw egg and runs a lot, punches meat, earns a draw with the flamboyant African-American champ who says there will be no rematch, and then changes his mind two minutes later. Rocky says no to the fight, gets married to the pet shop clerk, knocks up the pet shop clerk, spends a lot of money, goes to work in a meat plant, gets laid off from meat plant, agrees to rematch against pet shop clerk's wishes, pet shop clerk slips into coma after delivering a surprisingly healthy (and hairy) kid, and she wakes up just in time to tell Rocky to fight. Rocky must have won because next thing I know, he's fighting in an exhibition against Hulk Hogan before being savagely beaten by Mr. T. Then his old Jewish manager dies and the most uncomfortable grief scene in the history of movies follows as the Rock bellows like a wounded rhino while clutching the old man's body, then we're treated to the former champ stumbling through the Jewish funeral service. The flamboyant African-American former champ returns to train Rocky to beat Mr. T (yeah right) by turning him into an Italian jive turkey in some of the most homoerotic bromance sequences ever set to celluloid. But this somehow works because he's somehow champ again, now at ringside for the flamboyant African-American former champ who's fighting James Brown. No, scratch that, he's fighting He-Man, who must have lost a bet with his hairdresser. He-Man kills the guy from Predator, which pisses the Rock off. After training in the Russian snow, he becomes brain damaged and returns home to find he's lost all his money and owns nothing except the ballsweat smelling gym his dead Jewish trainer left him. I can only assume that the fight between Rocky and He-Man was called off because even the Russians didn't want to essentially beat up Corky from Life Goes On. Glastnost at its finest. Rocky, his now pretty, assertive wife, and his son move back to the old neighborhood in Philly, where we learn that the Rock's son has pretty much turned into a douche. So Rocky adopts some other dude and starts training him, only to be stabbed in the back when the guy signs with Don King. And then I don't know what the hell happened, because all of a sudden, Rocky's in some shit small town and is being hassled by the local fuzz, until he steals a motorcycle and rides off into the woods. Talk about confusing.

4. To Catch a Predator. I had heard of this show, but had never watched it. In agony Sunday night and unable to sleep, I had left the TV on MSNBC and this was what came on. First of all, I knew criminals were dumb, but I had no idea just how mentally retarded some of them really are. I ended up tossing and turning through two episodes of this show, in which about five criminals per show were lured to a remote house with the promise of sex with an underage girl they met on the internet. First of all, this show has been on the air for years. These guys are meeting chicks on the Internet. Do they not have a Facebook group or something where they might warn each other, "Hey, Dateline NBC has been running stings in cooperation with law enforcement. If you get an offer that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for chicks with laundry baskets and lemonade." After two hours of this crap, my faith in humanity was at an all time low. The next entry didn't help.

3. Parental Control on MTV. Shit, I pretty much stopped watching MTV after I graduated from college. I wasn't sure exactly why I stopped on this show, but I'm going to blame the drugs and the fact that the girl on the first show I watched had enormous boobs, which wasn't fair, because she distracted me. I think you know you're too old for MTV when you find yourself sympathizing with the parents of these girls who are dating these complete losers. If you've never seen the show, the parents each fix their daughter up with a guy and he takes them out on a date. At the end of the show, the girl decides if she will keep her current boyfriend or start dating one of the parent selected beaus. Great drama this is not. The kicker is that the parents and the current boyfriend sit together and watch the footage of the two dates. Talk about uncomfortable, try watching your girlfriend slip her tongue down some guy's throat while sitting on the couch next to her mother, who's egging her daughter on. In the two shows, I watched, the boyfriends were both total dicks. Both of them made fat jokes about the mothers. One of the guys made pussy jokes when the family cat wandered into the living room. TO HER PARENTS. I actually give these parents a lot of credit, because if I had a teenage daughter and if she were dating either of these two mega-douches, I wouldn't have gone to MTV to solve my problem. I would have just buried the body in the crawlspace with the others and been done with it. Big Boob Girl stayed with her boyfriend and her parents and I cried. The second chick was just as hot and a psych major to boot. Or a psycho. One of those. She was dating Mr. Pussy joke guy, who was wearing a dirty watch cap in the middle of summer, which is why I don't own a gun, because I would hunt people like him for sport. One of her dates takes her paintballing and fucking SHOOTS HER IN THE FACE, then gives her PB & J out of a cooler. Classy. Luckily, the other guy is a metrosexual musician who likes every single band that she does and she dumps Mr. Pussy for him. Mr. Pussy has a douchey meltdown before running outside to ride off in his, or should I say, on-his ten speed (No Pussy Wagon for you). While crying. I was too. Tears of joy for the psych major's parents. (Apparently, this show is fake, which I did NOT know while watching. I guess that makes me feel a little better. Maybe.)

2. We're Doomed. This is what I learned from the History Channel this past week. They must have run every Nostradamus related program they've produced over the past ten years the other day, including some new shit. Did you know that the world is ending in 2012 because the Mayan calender runs out? I didn't, but I sure do now. I also learned that Nostradamus predicted not one, not two, but three Antichrists. Some of the nuts, er, Nostradamus researchers believe that the world has already seen two of them, Napoleon and Hitler. They don't know who the third, more powerful one is, but obviously, he needs to surface soon as the clock is ticking here, people. The History Channel didn't name any names, but the images they showed were back views of a jug-eared person of indistinguishable color wearing a white dress shirt and dark dress pants speaking before a large, adoring crowd. Let's lock up Carlos Marmol, just to be safe.

1. And to end on a good note, PBS has been showing Ken Burns's latest documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. If you haven't seen any of this documentary, then you're missing some good stuff. As always with Burns, the images are spectacular and the stories behind how some of these places came to be set aside are fascinating and compelling history. I enjoyed the second episode in particular, as my favorite President, Theodore Roosevelt, and his contributions to the national park system were explored. Don't miss it. It really is good stuff and thank Vinnie I was able to end my basic cable sojourn on a positive.

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