Wednesday, March 13

Nuclear (Nielsen) Family - Part 3.



Growing up, the only thing I loved more than TV was a Snow Day. On those days where the weather was on the cusp of closing school, I would watch the morning news with unparalleled anticipation, my cereal spoon missing my mouth as all of my concentration was focused solely on the crawl at the bottom of the screen.

When your school showed up, it was like winning the proverbial Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes; the possibilities for the day were virtually limitless. It was a free day of your life, and you could do anything you wanted.

6:30-7:00 – NBC 15 Morning Show (Live – NBC)

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, snow had blanketed everything I could see outside my bedroom window. I live in a subdivision that isn’t fully connected to the rest of my city (seriously, our Main St. is split in two, and we're on the neglected side of it), so when the inevitable blizzard arrives, we usually don’t get plowed out until the afternoon.

The Missus doesn’t give a shit about snow, ice or her personal safety, so she went to work. I, on the other hand, wasn’t playing around. My anxiety on slippery roads is not one of my more entertaining quirks, and judging by the fact that every school in the county was being shut down for the day, I gladly flung my hands in the air and took a Snow Day. I didn’t have much to do at the office anyway, besides I had plenty of domestic things to take care of in advance of our home appraisal at the end of the week.

7:00-7:30 – Today (Live – NBC)
7:30-8:00 – Conan (DVR – TBS)

I want to go on record by saying that I would make a great stay-at-home dad. I keep the house clean, I can stay self-motivated and I haven’t taken a nap in over 22 years. The Missus has conceded to this truth; if we ever decide to have a baby, I will be the one who changes the diapers and…ugh, we’re never having a baby. Point is, I’m really good at staying home, and once I can finally support a career without having to leave said home, I’ll have achieved personal happiness in its purest form.

Celia does the laundry, but once it goes into the washer/dryer and the correct buttons are pushed, her job is over. I’m responsible for taking the clothes out and putting them away, which is exactly what I did from 7-8pm today. It’s a peaceful task and I don’t mind it. Furthermore, I watched both of my neighbors get their cars stuck as they were attempting to leave the subdivision, which once again made me happy to be pantsless in my bedroom on such a terrible Wednesday morning.

8:00-8:20 – The Colbert Report (DVR – Comedy Central)

With the laundry put away and the bed made, nearly 90% of my domestic chores were done for the day. With our home appraisal for refinancing looming, we had been tidying up around the clock (a big push would be made this upcoming Saturday), and there really wasn’t all that much for me to do. I made myself a cup of coffee, put some pants on (in that order) and made breakfast.

8:20-9:00 – SportsCenter (Live – ESPN)

Remember that stay-at-home dad stuff I was talking about earlier? Well, I prefer living that sort of life with my cats instead of a mewling, pooping spawn of my own hideous creation. As I was eating, I wrestled, chased and played fetch with my cats (yes, some cats know how to do that), hopefully tiring them out so I wasn’t so bothered this afternoon, as I had a few writing and business projects I wanted to do with limited feline interruption.

Before that, however, I had a new satellite channel I wanted to check out.

9:00-9:45 - iDolm@ster: Xenoglossia - Episodes 11-14 
(On Demand – The Anime Network)

When I was told that my DirecTV Genie would have Internet connectivity, I was excited about the On Demand channels in the event I accidentally miss a show. What I forgot was that I now had access to The Anime Network, which was one of only two Anime channels on satellite television in the United States.

My relationship with Anime is probably different than most. I didn’t grow up with it; I discovered it in the late 90’s as the Missus was into stuff like Pokemon, Ninja Scroll and Serial Experiments Lain. As a teenager, I gave it a chance but it didn’t really click with me. However, much like discovering comics well into my late 20’s, I gave Anime another chance as an adult, and while I’m keeping a respectable distance from the obsessive culture and lifestyle that tends to drive most well-adjusted folks from the genre, I’m loving the stuff that fits into my wheelhouse.

Now I wonder why I waited so long. For example, in 1999 I had a clerk at Suncoast Video (remember that place?) ask me if I watched Cowboy Bebop, and I sort of ignorantly made fun of her. Now, after seeing it (and naming a cat after one of the characters), I feel like a large chunk of my teen years could have been even more packed with pop culture goodness if I had let Bebop into my heart when it initially aired.

Also, I really miss Suncoast Video.

iDolm@ster: Xenoglossia was not good. In fact, a lot of Anime isn’t good, and it’s the job of the American fan to sift through the garbage that floats down the river, hoping to strike gold. I was told to watch this show as the music was supposed to be good, but it most certainly was not. Just another half hour of women piloting giant robots in Antarctica. I buzzed through four episodes while answering e-mail and leafing through our 2008 home appraisal chart.

9:45-10:30 - Infinite Stratos - Episodes 9-12 
(On Demand – The Anime Network)

I thought Infinite Stratos would be more action-oriented, but it reminded me a lot of current Toonami mainstay Tenchi Muyo GXP. I mean, there was action, but for crying out loud, there was an entire episode revolving around trying on swimsuits. There were more girls and fighting robots (topics I find more boring than most), but the American voice-acting was hilariously good.

As I am still new to the game, I would come to find out that these sorts of shows (where one sad boy’s affection is pined for by many women) are called ‘harem shows,’ which means that this storyline happens so much that it’s been given its own name and genre. Like I said, if you sift through enough garbage, you will strike gold. However, my time with The Anime Network was over for now; I had work to do.

10:30-10:50 – We Are Scientists Live (DVR – Palladia)
10:50-12:00 – Hurricane Festival 2012 (DVR/Live – Palladia)
12:00-1:00 – No Doubt Live (Live – Palladia)
1:00-2:00 – Mythbusters (Live – Discovery)

I work well with music, and as Palladia was one of the new channels I received with my Genie (for a week), I took advantage of their around-the-clock festival footage. We Are Scientists are a great band I had the pleasure of seeing in Madison a few years ago, and the Hurricane Festival featured performances from bands like The Cure, Rise Against, Zebrahead and Lagwagon. No Doubt’s new album is pretty much rubbish, but I liked their old catalog enough to not take the time to change the channel while I was writing.

In the true spirit of the Snow Day, I took the time to catch up on things I never do, which means I actually backed up my hard drive and re-synced my iPhone to my computer. I also worked on The Walking Dead Friday, and as the secretary/treasurer of my Homeowner’s Association, made sure that I hadn’t accidentally bankrupted us for another month. My productivity for completely benign tasks was off the chain.

From 2-4pm, I didn’t watch any TV, because I was catching up on some podcasts. In case you’re wondering what my favorites are, they’re not all that different from everyone else's: Stop Podcasting Yourself, WTF, Nerdist, Smart Wrestling Fan and a few others if I remember correctly. During my podcast listening session, I actually answered work e-mails because I was feeling slightly guilty for not being in the office. I’m stupid like that.

From 4-6pm, I was able to run some errands as we had finally been plowed out of our subdivision. I spent an hour at Target, pushing a cart full of cleaning supplies around in advance of our Saturday cleaning extravaganza. It was a pretty sexy sight if you’re into that sort of thing.

6:00-7:00 – Mollie B Polka Party (Live – RFD TV)

My wife wasn’t home yet after my Target excursion. My tasks were completed, my writing done, e-mails answered and house as clean as it needed to be. There also wasn’t anything I could watch on the DVR that the Missus didn’t want to watch as well. I didn’t really have anything to do (and reading is for chumps, says the author), so I did something I rarely get to do nowadays: Channel surf. And what I found was absolutely spectacular.

The RFD TV channel is supposed to be, I guess, a channel for the ‘rural’ satellite user. It’s basically a channel full of cattle auctions, country music collection, infomercials, Hee-Haw reruns and a show called Dutch Oven Cooking (I’m not making that up). I had seen Mollie B Polka Party other times while perusing the guide, but this time I decided to drop in and see what the show was all about.

First off, it should be mentioned that Mollie B, our polka partier and host, is surprisingly hot. From what I gathered, this show crisscrosses the nation (the south in particular, natch), showcases the local bands making a splash in the polka scene, and airs footage of them playing while unbelievably old people dance along. You’d think this would be boring. It was not. You’d also think that I’d watch it just to make fun of it in a mean, hipster way. Not true; Mollie B Polka Party was awesome.

When Mollie B interviews the polka bands before they play, it seems like this is their first time on television, and it shows. One of the older band leaders, while trying to be funny (and subtly flirt with our beloved Mollie B at the same time), said the following on stage:

This is the best show on television…even better than that…um…

He had panicked and forgotten the name of the show he was trying to mention. Fortunately, he came up with this amazing save:

Even better than…um, that Showtime show with the serial killer on it.

Outstanding. He couldn’t have wrecked that more had he done it intentionally.

The modern Dexter reference gave me pause. Despite the show being brand new, the atmosphere and filming quality give it a look that makes it appear to have been filmed in the 80’s. Honestly, if you had told me that I was watching a relic from the past, and that everyone in the audience had been long dead for over 20 years, I wouldn’t have doubted you for a second.

At one point, as they were panning through the crowd of cowboy hat-wearing geriatrics, I noticed my beloved Mollie B dancing with an African American guy. This was unbelievable to me; I was so incredulous that I had to rewind the DVR. No way did I see a willing black man at a polka show. Sure enough, my eyes did not deceive me, and I have now officially seen more black people at polka shows than I have at Wisconsin roller derby bouts (take from that what you will).

One of the acts, an accordion-playing yodeler, played alone with a drum machine accompaniment, and it was truly tragic beyond words. He had to stop singing every few measures in order to catch his breath, as he always seemed to be seconds from a heart attack (yodeling is strenuous work). He also coughed directly into the microphone a few times, which sounded great on my surround sound. Even the polka-savvy crowd was visibly stunned by some of his more bizarre antics.

Mollie B, as a host, works her ass off to make the intros, bumpers and interviews entertaining, which is no small task when you’re dealing with stage fright-riddled saxophone players and a nonagenarian audience who are using the majority of their brainpower to simply not fall over. (I should mention that I accidentally typed ‘branpower’ in the first draft, which is also fundamentally true, I assume).

One Chicago-based band towards the end, named ‘Freeze Dried,’ was pretty much a ska band with an accordion, and they were was better than they had any right to be at a Polka Party. I was so enamored that I had to get off the couch and dance a little bit with one of my cats, who mewled in general disapproval.

Finally, the last band of the night were ‘The Polka Nuts,’ who played a song called ‘Grandmother’s Polka.’ This made me miss my grandmother, so I gave her a call to say hello just as my wife pulled into the driveway.

Mollie B Polka Party. Ask for it by name. I’m sort of in love with that woman now.

7:00-8:00 - WWE Main Event (Live – ION)

This was the 3rd time this week I've seen Monday’s main event match between John Cena and CM Punk, but I watched it again anyway, as it was awesome. If you're wondering what the ION Network plays outside of this weekly WWE show, well, your guess is as good as mine.

8:00-8:25 - The Middle (DVR – ABC – ‘Wheel Of Pain’)
8:25-8:50 - Modern Family (DVR – ABC – ‘Best Men’)

Modern Family is, to me, one of the best-written sitcoms in television history. That being said, this episode in particular may have been my favorite. The Cam/Mitchell storyline was more than just them arguing (their breakup would be interesting TV), Phil continued to be my role model in life (just squeaking by Ron Swanson), and there was a Saves The Day flyer in the coffee shop where Alex’s band was playing. I thought it was a nearly perfect 22 minutes of TV. If you missed it, On Demand that shit!

8:50-9:05 - Ghost Hunters (DVR - SyFy)

You know, when Ghost Hunters premiered in 2004, I sort of believed in the potential existence of the paranormal. Even though I no longer do, Ghost Hunters still finds a way to discreetly slither its way onto my DVR, like a residual haunt would attach itself to a piece of antique furniture. Hmm.

Nonetheless, I still like to watch because I enjoy the tours of historic locations (particularly the East Coast mansions and prisons they tend to frequent). The crew, as usual, found nothing of paranormal note this week, which again proves to me that they have the easiest job in all of television. Tell me, if there were a show on the Discovery Channel called Moose Hunters, and every week they went out into the Alaskan wilderness and never found a single goddamn moose, how long do you think that show would stay on the airwaves? I’d give it three episodes, tops, yet Ghost Hunters has gone nearly nine years and counting with nothing more than grainy footage of shadows and the occasional whisper in the distance. It’s quite commendable, really.

9:05-9:30 – Two Door Cinema Club Live (DVR – Palladia)

I recorded this for Celia, as she really likes these Kermit-sounding, Irish nerdlingers.

9:30-10:15 – Catfish: The Series (DVR – MTV)

This is the first show I’ve seen on MTV in years, and it was once again recorded by me for the Missus. I try not to dig too deeply into her own personal television-watching habits, but most of it centers around deception, betrayal and spousal murder. I’m sure it’s nothing.

10:15-10:35 – The Daily Show (DVR – Comedy Central)
10:35-11:00 – The Colbert Report (DVR/Live – Comedy Central)
11:00-11:30 – Conan (DVR – TBS)

It was a long, productive Snow Day, and I did a little writing and miscellaneous work before heading off to bed. Despite taking the day off work, I answered their e-mail for the hell of it. Despite being snowed in, I still managed to sneak out to run errands. And despite watching 27 different TV shows over the course of 15 hours (including a few hours of Polka and Anime), I still made sure that the Missus didn’t have to do anything when she got home but sit down and relax. It was literally the least I could do.

When I was a kid, the Snow Day was a rare gift from the Gods of adolescence. Truth is, though, you can still experience it as an adult. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if Mollie B will friend me on Facebook.

Y'know, I LIKE to polka. You could polka with your wife, but no....I have to dance with my mom at wedding receptions. :)
It's better that way. Nobody ever needs to see me dance.
Not dance---POLKA.

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