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TV viewer needed a no-brainer

January 24, 1998

TV viewer needed a no-brainer

I've just finished watching the evening network specials on the latest presidential scandal, and I'm disgusted with the subject of sex in particular, and the news in general.

I'm reminded why I didn't watch TV for all those years. It was depressing. It was stressful.

I can't help thinking there's something wrong with our priorities when Paula Jones gets more air time than the pope.

Speaking of the pope, I spent more than an hour the other night watching the pope channel's coverage of the Papal Mass in Santa Clara, Cuba. (Yes, there is a pope channel).

I was sitting on the edge of the couch, waiting for the poor man to fall over. He was having trouble staying awake. He could barely stand and barely speak.

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It was depressing. Even more upsetting was the fact that the beaming commentators never mentioned the fact that the pope looked about to collapse. I didn't expect a detailed medical report - just a little reassurance that he was going to make it through the trip. That would have made me feel better.

As it was, I was scared to death he would genuflect, only never to straighten up again.

The commentators didn't even appear concerned. They just beamed and beamed. I found myself praying for the pope, instead of listening to his prayers for the people. By that time, my legs had gone numb from sitting so rigidly, in what I can only guess was a subconscious attempt to prop up the pope.

Rigidity is not healthy. Neither is numbness. I didn't feel too hot to begin with. I decided to see what else was on the boob tube. I had gone from watching revelations of a sordid sort to hearing Revelations of a Biblical sort.

I needed a change of pace. Something uplifting.

I decided to tune in to Mother Angelica, an enchanting nun who has (forgive me) the devil in her eye. I bumped into Mother accidentally one evening during a channel clicking frenzy, and found her delightful. It didn't matter that I'm not Catholic. I enjoyed her wit and her gnome-ish look. I couldn't help but like what I saw behind those low-slung glasses and that habit.

Speaking of habits, I have one of watching the Home and Garden Channel, which NEVER suffers from scandal, and NEVER talks about sex, unless it's some kinky way of propogating herbs.

When Mother Angelica started discussing child abuse, I reverted to form, signed off with the feisty nun, and flipped over to flowers and floor plans, in a desperate attempt to find something pure and simply entertaining.

I needed a no-brainer.

I was hoping I'd tune in in time to follow Penelope Hobhouse on one of her worldly garden tours, but alas, I instead found myself watching some guy install a doggy door in a lady's basement.

That was not a no-brainer - not for someone who spent five hours one night trying to put together a bookcase that consisted of a few boards and some screws.

From Home and Garden I flipped over to the alien week festivities on I-don't-remember-which channel. I flipped over in time to see someone beamed up into a saucer that sped away, and left me watching the credits roll up the screen.

No luck there.

I surfed again. this time I found myself watching doctors cutting open a shooting victim's chest, so they could perform open heart resuscitation (that's what I call it). It was real footage. "Emergency Room," I think it was called. Almost as good as the surgery channel, where I once saw a hernia repaired.

I finally gave up on reality, and switched to the Wavy Line Channel. Wavy line channels are those which I can't get because I don't pay the cable company enough money. All I can pull in is distortion, with a hint of a face or limb here or there.

I settled on Wavy Channel No. 1, sat back on the couch, and entertained myself by trying to figure out which object on the actor's undulating face was his nose.

He looked a lot like a Picasso in motion.

I was so enthralled with the channel that I fixed a bowl of popcorn and made a night of it.

It beat the news by a mile.

I hate to say it, but it even gave Mother Angelica a run for her money.

I needed a no-brainer.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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