How Catholicism Saved a Wretch Like Me by A.S. Albright

By A.S. Albright
Mr. Albright's first entry into the realm of Pork Pony details his quest to quit watching television "cold turkey" during lent. (CL)

I have a terrible confession to make to all of you in Pork Pony Land. I am a TV watcher. Not just a TV watcher, but a TV user. I have been using secretly for years, but today, right this minute, I am coming out. My name is Scott, and I'm a television-a-holic.

I don't want to be a TV user. I would like to consider myself a reader. I want desperately to be a reader. I tell everyone I am a reader. I have lots of books in all my bookcases, and I have actually read some of them. I like to read. Reading is fun. Yet, I have an incredibly short attention span when it comes to this most enjoyable and healthy past time. I will be happily reading along when my mind will just get up from the comfortable chair in which I am sitting and take a plane flight to Never-Never Land. When my consciousness finally decides to grace me with its presence again, I find that my body has continued to read without me. My eyes are just happily clicking along three or four pages ahead of my last known location. So, I go back and start rereading what my eyes have already seen. This time I slap myself on the face and say sternly, "Focus, you moron!" As I read the words off the page, my inner eye begins to see the circumstances so deftly created by the writer when my own imagination kicks into overdrive again and starts painting over those pictures with pictures of me cooking dinner for a beautiful, nubile, young thing who is, in most cases, unclothed. Damn it! Where was I? Oh, . . . and I have to go back to the same damn place and start over.

I can sit in front of a television and watch for endless hours with complete focus and comprehension, yet I can't read for five minutes without thinking: "Wow, I am feeling a tad pooped. I wonder what's on TV?"

I tried listening to music, but I discovered much to my dismay that I am old. When you cross the invisible border of thirty, your access pass to new music is abruptly stripped from you by the evil border guards known as apathy and cynicism. Whenever I venture to a pop or alternative radio station, I find myself saying things like: "What is this shit?" "Does anybody know what a guitar solo is?" "Who in the hell was the genius that decided that punk music was going to be the influence in all modern music?" "Rap sucks!"

"I wonder what's on TV?"

I truly believe irreparable harm has been done unto me by years of mindless, wasteful, numbing television viewing. I blame my loving family for this because television is the only thing we can do together without causing great emotional damage to each other. I jumped out of my seat while watching the end of the movie, Avalon, and screamed, "Oh my God, that's my family up there!"

In recognition of this evil opiate of the modern mind and the damage it has done to me, I decided to do something about it. I started by visiting the web site for a TV Free America at I wanted to see if they could offer some assistance in curing me. Well, it took awhile, but I finally managed to finish all the articles about "tuning in by turning off." There was a great deal of information about how television is bad for me, but little on how to quit watching or how to counter all the ill effects rendered by years of addiction. What I need to know is how not to turn on the television when I know an episode of Friends that I've already seen five times is airing, and of course, how to get my fractured attention span to actually span something. So, I continued my search at where I found a meager site that wants me to buy a book called Get A Life. If I could read a book called Get A Life, I wouldn't need to read a book called Get A Life.

What I really need is a television show that helps people curb their TV addiction while helping them get back all the brain cells they lost while watching television, or at the very least, teach me to access other brain cells to make up for the ones I lost. Don't get me wrong. I have no desire to stop watching TV all together. That would be insane, not to mention pretentious. I hate people who say, "I don't own a television." Fuck you! You arrogant sons of bitches! Yes, I see all the sculptures you've created, and yes, I heard about your three, best-selling novels, oh, and of course you work three jobs and have a fun-filled personal life. I don't have time to take a good piss, but you have all the time in the world, don't you? I bet you don't know who won Survivor III, do you? See there, you're stupid!

I apologize for that sudden outburst. It's not at all like the new me.

What I really, really needed was to go cold`turkey. I needed some excuse for giving up television long enough so I could actually experience my life for awhile. The National TV-Turnoff Week is April 22nd through April 28th, but I needed something a bit more drastic than that. So, I decided to give up television for Lent. That is forty whole days and nights. You know that movie that's out right now where the guy gives up sex for Lent? That's nothing, my friend. I am giving up tel%vision and I am not even Catholic. So why does a former Protestant, semi-Zen Buddhist recognize such a holy Catholic holiday? What better support group could a man ask for than a billion Catholics who are all trying to give up something they love? If you fail, the guilt alone will kill you.

So, by the time you read these words, I will have been TV free for more than thirty days! Who knows? I might even have read a book.

And let's not forget about the National TV-Turnoff Week. Let's unite together and contribute something meaningful to mankind by driving the ratings of Fear Factor straight into the toilet.

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This page contains a single entry by A.S. Albright published on March 11, 2002 12:54 PM.

Stuance was the previous entry in this blog.

An Old Acquaintance is the next entry in this blog.

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