This is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore watching television for KCRW, but not too much this past week. I'm taking a few days off. And when I hole up in the country, my rule is: No TV, no computer!
It can be a little eerie to withdraw like that, as if just by taking your eye off the tube you're begging for trouble. I was out here when Princess Diana died. When John F. Kennedy, Jr., died. When an airliner exploded in mid-air a few miles off the coast. And oddly, I got the first word about each tragedy from the same source: a doctor's wife up the street. All these years later, I still hate the sight of her.
Each time, she would find me lying on the beach. I don't do that now. You're as likely to find me sunbathing as to find Mel Gibson at temple. At my age, I don't need a tan -- what am I trying to prove? So I've been inside, taking an afternoon nap, only to be awakened by a tinkly, endless rendition of Turkey in the Straw. It's the ice cream truck, parked right outside.
While I weather the noise, I think back when I was a kid and would hear that song and wonder how a turkey could possibly fit into a straw. Then I start thinking about TV and turkeys ... all the turkeys on TV I'm supposedly vacationing to get a respite from. I decide to Google "turkey" and "show-biz slang" after my nap, and find out why "turkey" is a word for lousy show. Or used to be. I don't think the industry uses that term much anymore. Uhhh, I lied about not having a computer here. I lied about the TV, too. But it stays unplugged, with a beach towel over it. Out of sight, out of -- I can't stop thinking about it!
I wonder what I'm missing, and whether my TiVo at home will record it properly. And if I'll ever find time to catch up.
I think about Katie Couric. What will she wear next month on her first night at CBS? Shouldn't viewers get to weigh in on this matter? Isn't that what the Internet is for?
How am I supposed to relax? I feel hard-pressed to embrace the unspoiled Nature that surrounds me here without barreling across it in an SUV. That's just one of the favorite themes of TV commercials, isn't it? That whatever you don't experience on a TV screen should be ogled through a windshield of a new car at full throttle.
Instead, I'm at rest in my bedroom, knowing all too well when I do go out, television will ambush me. Maybe I'm the last guy to know this, but -- there are flat-screen TVs at the checkout counters at the supermarket here. And if I drop by any bar, I know I'll be fixating on some televised game before my first drink is served. The only way I could tear my eyes from the screen is if Uma Thurman were on the next stool.
It's funny, I meet people who find out what I do for a living, then feel compelled to tell me, with a blend of apology and boasting, how they don't watch TV. Maybe don't even own a TV.
I don't know what world they're living in. The world I occupy is, for better or worse, one of video force-feeding. Face it, in American culture, television is everywhere you look. Unless you're Henry David Thoreau, you watch TV. And to resist: That's tantamount to civil disobedience.
I only hope no one will fault me for taking a little break. I'm gonna stay right here, and resume my nap. So far, TV doesn't penetrate my dreams.
Watching television for KCRW almost any other week, this is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore.