Cable TV Wars
By Evan Allison
I walked into our den where we have the big-screen, “sports only” TV and found my wife and two of her friends entranced by a show on HGTV. The show featured four hyper-kinetic women painting a room, and having more fun than most people do in beer commercials.
“Are you watching this?” I asked.
“Well, we’re sitting here staring at the TV,” she said, “so what do you think?”
“I guess you are, but they’re showing a replay of the 2006 Rose Bowl game and I really want to see it on the big screen.”
“How many times have you seen that game?”
“I dunno… four or five.”
“Hogwash. I’ve seen it that many times just passing by; so let me give you a recap: Texas quarterback Vince Young scored the go-ahead TD with 19 seconds left and the Longhorns beat the Trojans 41―38. I’m thinking that’s going to happen every time you see it.”
“Yes, but―” I stammered.
“And I am watching this, so please hush or please leave.”
I started to walk out of the room when the program ended and the announcer said, “Is your grout dingy and discolored? If so, then stick around for the next hour and we’ll show you how to get it sparkling white again.”
I stopped immediately and said, “An hour of watching people clean grout? I gotta see this.”
“You can stay if you promise to help me clean the grout in the bathrooms tomorrow,” she said.
“Absolutely,” I said, although both of us knew I was lying.
The show began with dramatic background music and a close-up of the grout in question. It really was dark, dingy and dirty. If grout had a persona, this stuff would be pure evil.
The cleaning commenced with soap and water, and you could see some of the grout getting progressively white. “Hey, that’s pretty cool,” I said. The next step was to use vinegar, which got more of the grout even cleaner. “Wow! Would you look at that!” I yelled.
The final step was to use a mixture of baking soda and water followed by a splash of vinegar. The mixture began foaming up and when she wiped it off the grout was positively sparkling. “YES!” I screamed, then leaped up and high-fived my wife.
“I guess you’ll be ready to clean some grout tomorrow,” she said.
“Tomorrow? No way! I want to start now! Where’s the vinegar?” I hollered, flying out of the room to look for the grout-cleaning supplies.
HGTV: I came to mock, but I stayed to rock.
By Olivia Allison
In 1958 Paramount Pictures released a cheesy Sci-Fi movie titled The Blob, in which a small alien globule slithers around a town, absorbing most of the lifeforms it encounters. By the end of the movie, the globule has grown into a humongous blob that sucks in everything it touches.
That’s pretty much the history of the ESPN network. From a small, obscure cable station, it has mushroomed into a multi-channel monster, and it has done so by absorbing the brains of sports fans, such as those of my husband and his friends.
As of this writing, there are eight full-time ESPN stations. My husband watches all of them, including ESPN Deportes, which is broadcast entirely in Spanish, a language he does not speak, to watch soccer, a game he does not like.
I knew that ESPN had a pretty strong hold on sports fans, but I never realized how strong until I walked into my husband’s cave and observed him and four of his buddies rapturously watching people playing poker. Occasionally, one of the players would look up, stare intently at the other players, then push some chips into the pot, whereupon my husband and the guys would start moaning or cheering like it was overtime in the Super Bowl.
And I thought, “How could anyone possibly find this entertaining?” Of course, I thought it out loud, so my husband said, “Sweetie pie, we wouldn’t be offended if you marched on out of here.”
“And miss this thrill-a-minute excitement? Not on your life,” I replied.
“Tell you what,” he said. “I’ll record it for you, so if you want to leave, we’re fine with it. Really.”
“Okay, I can take a hint,” I said, “but let me ask a crazy question. Wouldn’t it be more fun if the five of you were to actually play cards instead of watching other people play?”
There was an audible gasp, and they all looked at me as though I’d gone completely mad. Obviously, it was a crazy question to them. As I walked out of the room, it dawned on me that these guys had subconsciously bought into the unspoken motto of ESPN: “Why go to all the trouble of playing a game yourself when you can sit at home and watch other people play it?”
I decided I had to do something about this situation, so I sat down to write a strongly worded letter to ESPN management to complain that they had turned my husband from a seasonal zombie into a year-round zombie. Then, I stopped and thought, “Careful there, girl. This might make them angry enough to start another channel.” Sometimes, it’s best not to mess with the Blob.