Tag Archives: filling my hump of hate

“I want you to pass me that trowel as hard as you can.”

Mary at Black Walnut Dispatch once again hits a nerve. Responding to concerns that the cable channel HGTV is removing the last of its gardening programs, presumably for more programming friendlier to advertisers wanting to sell $80k in house renovations at a time, she’s suggesting her own line of amped-up garden shows. I don’t disagree with her, and in fact I’ve been arguing for years that gardening and horticulture shows need to get more gonzo.

The reason that this hits a nerve is because it connects with a longrunning tradition in the Riddell household. Neither the Czarina nor myself are much for serious television-watching these days, and that’s only partly because we swore to the other that either one has legal permission to shoot, club, or garrote the other if terminal television addiction becomes apparent. Running something as background entertainment while engaging in hands-intensive activities is perfectly acceptable, which is why the Czarina drops in a few episodes of Midsomer Murders while doing pearl restringings. I’m a bit more partial to reruns of Primeval while potting up butterworts, but that comes with the territory. Either way, as mentioned in the past, our greatest fear is finding ourselves flipping through 8800 channels looking for one program that sucks marginally less for a half-hour, and watching friends getting addicted to the latest soon-to-be-forgotten “hit drama” is another sour note. (This leads to all sorts of interesting situations, such as when the Czarina tries to get decent Web access that doesn’t require either FIOS television or a telephone land line as part of the deal. It’s like trying to get a cell phone plan where you have the choice of texting or a party line.)

In most years, though, that changes on our anniversary. In most years, we get a nice out-of-the-way hotel or housesit, and spend our time relaxing. By “relaxing”, this usually means the Czarina fires up the cable or satellite connection, turns on HGTV, and we watch until what comedian Bill Hicks referred to as a “hump of hate” is filled. I’m amazed at her ability to digest horrible “flip this house” gibberish and walk out still sane, but she’s usually taking notes on new home repair techniques and materials. When we’ve both reached our saturation point on the advertising, especially with the annual special-television-offer flotsam that’s advertised twice every commercial break, it’s time to go home, thankful that we don’t do it more than once per year.

This last year, though, we had to skip out. The Czarina didn’t believe me when I told her that I wanted to stay home and shovel out my office, and I used the opportunity to prove her wrong. No: Prove Her Wrong. (Okay, so she proved me wrong, because I still have one box that needs to be sorted and pitched. However, I proudly state that fourteen boxes of obscurantia have been sorted, filed, indexed, shredded, and donated, and I even have two boxes of old financial papers that will make great kindling for a bonfire this weekend.) She went in to her Day Job to fend off the worst of the Boxing Day freakiness, and I covered the living room with ever-growing piles of detritus. I finally got the space cleared out, pitched the last worn copy paper box, bound my cracked and bleeding hands as best as I could, looked up at the calendar, and realized “We skipped out on our inoculation against excessive consumption, didn’t we?”

No fear, though. The Czarina has Plans this weekend, and they involve reminding her why we don’t need to get a replacement for the television any time soon. By the time we’re done, we may both have ideas for what makes the perfect gonzo garden show, and then it’s time to look for sponsorships. I figure that the teaser ads for the pilot episode could start with this little missive, with severe apologies to Chuck Pahlaniuk:

The first rule of Garden Club: You do not talk about Garden Club.
The second rule of Garden Club: You DO NOT TALK ABOUT GARDEN CLUB.
Third rule: If gives up and goes inside to watch television, the garden is over.
Fourth rule: Only two guys to a garden.
Fifth rule: One garden at a time.
Sixth rule: No fertilizers, no hydroponics.
Seventh rule: Growing seasons will go on as long as they have to.
And the Eighth and final rule: If this is your first night at Garden Club, you have to weed.

Put a little outhouse in your soul

Every year for our wedding anniversary, the Czarina and I watch television. Well, let me rephrase that. At that time, we simply watch television. We’re not arrogant anti-television snobs who sniff at the idea of watching anything on the “idiot box”. We just simply don’t have the time any more. In combination with the both of us previously having been married to television addicts, we just can’t justify paying nearly $75 a month solely to flip around looking for a program that sucks marginally less than the 80,000 other selections on cable.

That’s not to say that we ignore the incredible output of televised entertainment. We just ration it out with a NetFlix account, so the Czarina doesn’t need to listen to me whimper about my dream job and I don’t get in the way of her next challenge. Besides, the best thing about watching television series in bulk is that they don’t come with obnoxious commercials.

Even so, at the end of the year, we hie ourselves to one disclosed location or another for our anniversary. It might be a hotel in Fort Worth, a ranch house in far West Texas, or just about anyplace with good beds, clean bathrooms, and unlimited cable. With the latter, the Czarina turns the channel to HGTV, and we generally overdose on home improvement porn until she’s sated. After three days of nonstop HGTV, she’s received plenty of ideas, and we’ve filled our humps of hate on the commercials until the next anniversary. (Trust me: for those who haven’t given up on cable television, go six months without it, and then go for a test drive. Every time we figure “You know, we’d like to do something besides smile and nod when friends go on and on about their favorite television show, so why don’t we get cable?”, all we need is a handful of Pajama Jeans ads to burn that compulsion right out of our heads.)

Anyway, we’re nearly six months away from our hump-filling, and that’s when Amanda at Kiss My Aster brought up a truly Lovecraftian horror for our next anniversary. Namely, My Yard Goes Disney. Oh, I’m sure that the sort of people who sit through Hanna Montana marathons will love this idea. I just figure that the show might work a bit better if it went dark. REALLY dark. “Today on What The Hell Happened?, this lovely suburban house and yard were completely redone by H.R. Giger, Harlan Ellison, and Angelspit! Let’s see if the neighbors notice!”