Sunday, July 27, 2008

TV or not TV

We don’t watch much TV in Zambia and truthfully I don’t really miss it. But sometimes you find yourself at one of those unfortunate junctions in life where TV is about all you can muster. You’ve read yourself cross-eyed and it’s a Sunday afternoon, and those Old Testament passages about resting on the Sabbath suddenly seem particularly inspired.

Today was one of those days for me.

I hadn’t really watched much TV in a while and I didn’t really know what I might find, though recent mini-surfings had been hopelessly disappointing.

As I scanned the channels, I came across a couple of guys beatin’ each other senseless (the Testosterone Channel I think), and wasn’t sure what was scarier, their seeming determination to kill one another, or the crowds equal determination to encourage them to do so. There was Joel Osteen, preaching about letting your praise flow and let the blessing flow with it or something like that and I thought it sounded very much like the one other sermon I had heard Joel Osteen preach, but then again, what do I know.

There was of course the news talking about they young guy and the old guy and the soon and coming election. I think they were taking a poll to see who would win if the election were held today and everyone had to vote blindfolded with one hand tied behind their back while eating a Twinkie.

There was some show about deer hunting and how you can kill a butt load (can I say that?) of deer with some kind of acorn powder, which for deer is second only to eating Twinkies while voting for president. None of these interested me in the least (do we REALLY need one more poll!??), but for some reason I had to go through all the channels about 17 times just to make sure.

In the process, I stumbled across a show on the Animal planet that almost had me. It was about bandit mongooses (which has nothing to do with thieves on bicycles), but was about a herd – yes a herd, of bandit mongooses (surely, its not Mongeese) that ate dung beetles and scorpions, and it was just adorable until one little baby mongoose got separated and was in danger of being eaten by a lion. And then one Mongoose named Odo (or something) ran over to save the little stranded baby Mongoose from the lion, and IT GOT EATEN TRYING TO SAVE THE POOR LITTLE BABY MONGOOSE!

I was so angry wondering why they had to go and name the little critters if they KNEW one of em was gonna get chomped on? I could have enjoyed the show just fine if they had said, “And then one of the random Mongooses in the herd of many mongooses who all look pretty much the same ran off and got eaten trying to save one of the many unnamed baby mongoose. Up until then I was pretty much committed because the show was so African I thought I was on a game drive and almost started taking pictures of the TV. Plus, it was weird that I felt more at home watching rodents running around Tanzania than I was watching Fox News. Which is mostly about rodents running around Capitol Hill.

But TV bliss was, in the end, finally achieved and I found it on an old faithful standby that has come through before – The Food Network. The show was “The Next Food Network Star” and its (you probably know this because I ‘m pretty sure it was a rerun) a reality TV show where the winner gets their own show on The Food Network.

So what was it, I’m sure you’re wondering, that I liked?

For one, I could watch the whole show and not have to repent once because nobody ever got naked, cussed any body out, or shot anybody during the whole show and that says a lot these days. Second, it was about food. And the simple fact that food is apolitical and that Paula Deen was on the show as a judge and she just makes me want to go out and eat something fried and be glad I did, all made me love it. It had everything you could possibly want in a TV show. It had drama, suspense, humor and chipotle peppers which by the way, I learned are just smoked jalapeños. Therefore, it was also educational.

But more than that, it was nice. That sounds terribly second grade-ish as in “Be nice and stop putting your brother’s toothbrush in the toilet.” But it was nice and I loved it. It was so nice that when one girl got voted off, they did it without ever telling her that she should consider becoming a greeter at Wal-Mart. And the girl that got kicked off hugged the others and agreed that they deserved to go to the next round. It was very Hallmark.

And the truth is, I like nice. I like nice people and I like nice TV. So from now on, when a Sabbath is in order, its me and the Food Network.

And by the way, I’m thinking of not voting for the old guy or the young guy. I’m thinking of casting my vote, for Odo, the bandit mongoose.

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