Tag Archive: television


I used to be a good parent.  Did I say “good”?  No, that’s not what I meant at all.  Not “good” by any stretch of the imagination.  I think what I meant was “not terrible.”  Which is about as much as one can hope for when you have your first kid (we’ll call him Kid Uno for simplicity’s sake).  With your first kid, you’re overprotective, neurotic, and almost invariably, massively annoying to everyone else around you.  I know this know because of all the other first-time parents around me.  With your first kid, you act like you’re the first person in the universe to have a kid – everything is fascinating, pioneering, like no one in the world has ever experienced what you’re experiencing.  But in reality, you’re irritating the shit out of everyone around you with your fucking kid.

I’d like to believe that I wasn’t like that with my first kid.  But I can’t tell ‘cause I can’t properly remember what I was like with Kid Uno.  I do remember that when my second kid (and we’ll call him Kid Dos, because why not) came around, I was a shit ton more chilled out about everything kid-related.  “Chilled out” perhaps has positive connotations – relaxed, not overly excited, somewhat in control, etc.  Except that’s not entirely what I meant.

In this case, chilled out meant giving zero fucks; my parenting nose-dived into a tragic spiral from Kid Dos on.  It is astounding how little I give a shit anymore.

 

When my kids were much littler – young enough when at least one of them was still shitting his pants – I took so much care over what I fed them.   Something like breakfast – the most important meal of the day! – was a meticulously calculated affair.  I’d spread just the right amount of jam – not too much, not too little, and fuck you, no high fructose corn syrup, you animal – on their toast.  Whole grain toast!  None of this shitty white bread bollocks.   I mean, how’re you gonna know if something’s good for you if it doesn’t have two full cups of sawdust in it, right?  I’d carefully cut up, skin, and core an apple because shit, these guys needed their wholesome nutrition directly from a fruit.  Full cups of milk.  Whole milk for full milk power.  That sort of thing.

This morning, I lazily filled their bowls with some peanut butter cereal, and promptly forgot the milk.  I’m not even sure if they ate it, that’s how little of a shit I give these days.

 

Keeping the kids occupied?  Whatever the fuck it takes.  Things like TV and movies aren’t a luxury – they’re basic necessities, essential tools when used strategically  will do wonders by keeping your kids distracted enough so that you can get other shit done.

In this case, I’m not even shielding Kid Dos from age-inappropriate content anymore.  Whatever works for Kid Uno works for Kid Dos now.  Kid Dos is watching shit that Kid Uno never go to watch at his age.  Questionable language all over the place, and I have the nerve to get mad when they use the word “heck.”  (Yes, yes, the irony is not lost on me, given the tenor of this blog, assholes.)

“Hey, you guys wanna go watch tons of explosions, gratuitous violence, a skin-to-win Gwyneth Paltrow, and two dozen Iron Men?  AWESOME!!!”

 

I don’t get to help out with the kids’ homework very much.  They don’t get a ton of homework, but they often tackle it when they come home from school, while I’m still at work.  That said, the missus probably does a fair job “refereeing” the exercise…  I think.  I have no fucking idea.

I used to try and sit with them to help them with some of the homework if I wasn’t in the office.  But these days, it does seem that more and more of their homework is done online.  While I should probably more concerned about their online access, I somehow saw this as an excuse to fuck off even more.  I mean, how many pairs of hands can be on the keyboard at the same time, right?

“You’ve got to do your homework on the computer?  Well, go right ahead!”  I have no idea what type of homework a 6 year-old needs to do online, but I’m far too willing to let him loose on it.  I suppose if I was a more responsible parent, I might sit with him to make sure he’s not accidently running into questionable material (like everything his father writes online).  But I’m not, so I don’t.  I am a shit parent.

It’d be one thing if my deplorably parenting habits were just passive actions like simply not bothering.  But I’ve now found myself going out of my way to be irresponsible.

 

A couple of Sundays ago, I woke up and decided that Kid Dos should have a drum kit after months of talking about it.  Kid Uno plays the cello, and Kid Dos had nothing, so I got it in my head that I needed to rectify this immediately.  Truth is, I was at a concert the night before, and the band had a kick-ass girl drummer – and girl drummers are the fucking best.  There was also a veiled sliver of me that thought that this was also my chance to learn to play the drums.  Don’t act so surprised, I’m not the first asshole to use my kid to get something I wanted.

Things happened rapidly.  I found two listings for drum kits on Craigslist.  After a few email exchanges, and conferring with my drummer friend, I bolted down to Brooklyn, and by 3pm, I came home with a shiny blue drum kit for Kid Dos.

He couldn’t be more excited to give it a good and proper thrashing after I put the whole kit together.  And I do mean thrashing.  I play guitars loudly and full of distortion, so I understand the beauty of noise.  But drum kit in the house in the eager hands of a 6 year-old?  Holy fucking shit, this I was not even remotely prepared for.  The kid can hold an impressive beat, but holy shit he’s loud.  Loud enough to make my aging ears ring.  Loud enough for me wonder if I’ve made a terrible decision here by giving him something that might damage his hearing.  Drums, what a great idea.

I guess one upside is I’d be too deaf to hear anything when I get yelled at for being such a shitty parent.

 

 

 

Well of course this has bloody spoilers in it.  So don’t say I didn’t warn you.  But it’s fun to judge an entire season of a show – heck, a whole show – based on just one episode.  So, let’s do it: here are the top 5 reasons the latest season of Downton Abbey will suck ass.

 

 

1.  O’Brien’s bangs are no longer menacing.  There’s no denying that the coiled springs over her forehead were the prime source of her devious power.  She’s Medusa in a maid dress.  Which was awesome.  But nooooo, now they’ve gone and fashioned her bangs differently.  They’ve gone from evil windings to what looks like the spider from Cut The Rope.   That is so not awesome anymore.   That’s like changing up Darrin on “Bewitched” and hoping no one notices.  Or that girl from the Fresh Beat Band.  Bullshit.

2.  No mention of Pamuk (yet).  He’s been the most recurring unseen character since Vera and Maris.  In season 2, it seemed like whatever Lady Mary did had some direct correlation to that dead git.  This first episode in the third season?  Nothing.  Not one whisper.  It’s like the dead Turk never existed.  What a letdown.  The least they could do was something like what Simon Pegg suggested in his tweet.

3.  Are they trying to make Thomas more likable?  Shit, I found myself agreeing with him not once but twice.  TWICE!  After the second time, I punched myself in the face to make sure a third time wouldn’t happen.

4.  They’ve taken the zingers off the boil.   It’s like the writing has been dumbed down to something worthy of Home Improvement.  When the Countess Dowager says that Shirley MacLaine’s character reminds her of “the virtues of the English”,  Matthew Crawley walks right into it and asks, “But isn’t she American?” “Exactly.” So, so awful.  For God’s sake, Julian, stop cribbing dialogue from awful shows like How I Met Your Mother or hackey shit like that.  Honestly, I half-expected a laugh track to erupt after that exchange.

5.  Oh shit, here come the Americans.  Clearly creating a program that is uniquely British is a limiting proposition.  I mean, why not dilute a clever formula?  About 8 million people tuned into ITV on Sunday to watch the show.  That’s chump change compared to what you could get in America.  Sooooooo… if you wanna appeal to ‘Murrrcans, hell, you’ve got to make sure you include loads more Americans in it!  That’s why Yanks have no patience for sports like Formula 1 or soccer – a glaring absence of formidable Yank talent.  No way Downton’s gonna fall into that trap (not when the estate’s going broker than broke!).  So, cue the new Yank cast, and cue all the lame “pompous English vs. brutish American” jokes!  Ugh.

 

Downton Abbey’s broken the golden rule of quality British television: two seasons and you’re out.  You quit while you’re still ahead.  Good shows are only good for two seasons.   Don’t believe me?  I present exhibits A, B, and C:  The Office, Spaced, and Fawlty Towers.   I rest my case.

 

This past Sunday, I had grand ambitions on how I’d spend my evening.  I thought I could settle in the basement workshop and change all the strings on my guitars.  Or I could sift through my CDs, rip a bunch of songs and make a cool mix tape.  Maybe I could write another blog post, this time pointing out what a colossal waste of time the NBA Slam Dunk contest was (it was fucking terrible, done).

But, nooooooo.  I got the message loud and clear that my attention was needed in front of the TV watching the goddamn Oscars with the missus, and she’ll have no argument about it.  Having kept some ungodly hours at work last week, leaving her to deal with our two ingrates single-handedly meant that I owed her, and if that means three hours of mental flagellation in front of the TV, so be it.

5 minutes into the Oscars, I wanted to throw myself out the window.  I mean, seriously, who gives a shit.  All this pompous, self-congratulatory bullshit celebration of a horribly, horribly mediocre industry filled with awful terrible people.  Billy Crystal going the extra mile t to prove that nine times is way too many times.  And what the fuck was all that circus bullshit – did anybody understand what that was going on about?  Seeing all the cringeworthy banter from plastic-faced people like Gwyneth Paltrow made me want to pull a Sylvia Plath and wear my oven as a helmet.

But this isn’t about the Oscars.  No, this is about what saved the Oscars for me: Twitter and live blogs.

There I was, stretched out on the couch, iPad in hand, my eyes darting between the TV and my Twitter feed.  And Gawker’s live blog.  In particular the live blog made the whole affair not just survivable, but actually enjoyable.  It didn’t make me like the Oscars, but I do know the hilarity of the live blog couldn’t have happened without that train wreck on TV.

And Twitter.  Seeking out the #oscar hashtag provided a steady stream of bullshit comments.  Some funnier than others, most quite dull.  The tweets seemed to average one comical comment for every thirty or so dull-as-fuck ones.  Yet I still tracked the action on Twitter like some degenerate gambler at a racetrack.  Somehow I seemed to be seeking validation for my agony of watching the Oscars.  And I realized that this wasn’t the first time I felt dependent on tweets and live blogs while watching TV.  I did the same thing with the Grammys.  And the Super Bowl.

Why the fuck can’t I just sit and watch TV like a normal human being anymore?  How did I suddenly develop this unnecessary dependence on mobile devices piping in a steady stream of social commentary horseshit?  It’s not like most of the shit on Twitter is stuff that I really need to know anyway.  Most of the time, it was like “OMG, did u c Nicky Minaj perform! WTF!!” (no, Sherlock, you were the only living person tuned to the TV at that moment in the Grammys, the rest of us several million folks collectively got up to go take a slash), or some pointless declaration like “Go Giants!! #patriotsuk” (that’s right, because without your all-important tweet, the Giants surely would’ve lost the game).

And it’s not limited to big TV events, is it.  I mean, Vanity Fair tweet throughout every episode of Downton Abbey every weekend.  Why do I know?  How the fuck do you think I know.  It’s Downton Abbey, for God’s sake.  We’re all tweeting… about poncy poms sweatin’ their virginal reputations… and emotionally-barren old ladies being snippy to each other.  Dear God.

The day I find myself checking my Twitter feed or live blogging while watching an episode of Phineas & Ferb with my kids, I’m throwing my phone through the TV, I swear.  That’s probably going to happen this weekend.