Spaghetti for brains

Last night I found myself doing something I never do.

I watched television.

No, don’t worry. For the first hour I watched The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, a pretty damned good western by legendary director Sergio Leone.

I had never been a western fan growing up – I think I was bombarded with the westerns coming through the screen at my grandparents too much at a young age to ever give them much thought – but, after visiting my grandfather and watching a few interviews about the “spaghetti western,” I found that the genre was actually starting to pique my interest.

On the way home we heard an interview on Fresh Air (an NPR program) with author Christopher Frayling about Sergio Leone. Frayling has written a book about Leone and about the spaghetti western itself: Once Upon a Time in Italy.

When I got home and realized that they were making a movie about Sergio Leone I decided right then and there that I’d better familiarize myself with his films. I had to be ahead of this Leone bandwagon.

As I said before, they’re pretty damned good.

Leone made westerns that were a far cry from “good vs. evil.” Instead, you’ve got shades of gray – the bad guys were only slightly worse than the good guys. The camera angles are ultra-dramatic, and the themes are either incredibly dark or incredibly tongue in cheek. Also, Clint Eastwood made his name thanks to Leone, so you should watch it just for that. If you’re a fan of westerns, or of movies in general, you owe it to yourself to watch A Fistful of Dollars, or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

That was the first hour. The second hour was pretty bad.

I don’t normally watch television anymore – the rare baseball game or rerun of Friends may grace my screen from time to time, but nothing for longer than 15 minutes – but last night I did. I was trying to stay awake late in preparation of my upcoming workweek. I had to get my internal clock back on track, I figured, so I sat myself in front of the TV to watch.

I was getting tired watching my movie, so I turned it off and flipped through the channels. It was horrible. I took notes, and I will share this horribleness with you.

12:36 am: E! – Wild on Tara.
As if Tara Reid needs more of a reason to be labeled a “no-talent party-limpet,” E! brings us Wild on Tara. What is the show about, you ask? In a nutshell: Tara Reid gets paid to travel around the globe and drink at clubs. She gets very drunk, flirts with the locals, barely keeps her breasts in her dress, and then does whatever she can to bring attention to herself without literally yelling “hey look at me!” It’s horrible. I guess if you like seeing party-sluts prance around while completely drunk, you’ll like this show. If you have a thread of self-respect, however, you’ll turn the channel before it’s too late.

12:38 am: VH1 – Behind the Music: Notorious B.I.G.
I’ve actually seen this before, so I know it’s really good. I watched it for a little while and couldn’t help but laugh at seeing this big tough rap legend at the age of ten – still really fat, sounding like he has a mouth full of marbles. It’s interesting to say the least, and well worth seven full minutes of my time.

1245 am: NBC – Last Call with Carson Daly
Carson Daly is the worst interviewer I’ve ever seen. I watched him for five minutes, and the poor sap he was interviewing completely drowned – Carson did nothing to help him get laughs, he couldn’t for the life of him make anything this chump said sound interesting, and then ended the interview by practically making fun of him. No wonder Jennifer Love Hewitt left him.

12:50 am: The Travel Channel – World Poker Tour.
First off, the World Poker Tour is the B-League of professional poker. The no-names play the WPT in hopes that they might some day be invited to play alongside Jesus Ferguson and the likes. These are the REAL poker dorks – the ones who strive to sit at the table with the “semi-dorky” poker dorks. It’s like the beginners table at a Magic: The Gathering tournament – everyone wants to be sitting next to the guys with the card protectors. Secondly, the Travel Channel has absolutely nothing to do with travel. I was excited, at first, about the prospect of having an all-travel channel. Unfortunately, all they show is this WPT crap and 15 hours of “Haunted Mansions” and “The Worlds Grossest Jobs.” I am so pissed about the Travel Channel.

12:51 am: Nick at Nite – Roseanne.
Roseanne is not “classic television” yet. I feel so old whenever I end up on Nick at Night, because their idea of classic television is the stuff from the late 80’s and early 90’s, as if that was ages ago. The Cosby Show and Fresh Prince of Bel Air were both great sitcoms. That doesn’t mean they deserve to be called “classic” sitcoms. Here’s the list of Nick at Nite shows:
The Cosby Show
Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Full House
Murphy Brown
Who’s the Boss

Am I that old? Bring back Make Room for Daddy and My Three Sons. That way I won’t feel as if I’m already 55 years old. If there’s anything that makes me madder than the Travel Channel, it’s this instant nostalgia craze.

12:55 am: ESPN – Sportscenter – The Hot Seat
Athletes are a horrible interview. They give boring answers. They don’t add insight to any discussion. They overuse the same tired clichés. They shouldn’t be talking at all – just catching, kicking, throwing, and hitting balls. No wonder Tony Kornheiser never interviewed athletes on his show.

I miss Tony Kornheiser on the radio.

(Finally, with that though, I went to sleep.)

This was lovingly handwritten on August 11th, 2005