Looking for Mr. Mom

Between TV Guide, Cable Monthly, and the Austin American-Statesman's Show World, there's no shortage of print schedules of the television medium. For Time Warner cable subscribers within Austin, there's also that rotating 90-minute what's-playing-now schedule on Ch 7. Individual publications for cable networks such as The Learning Channel and A&E are available by subscription or you can find websites for everything from HBO and FOX to ACAC and the Austin Music Network (AM15). (A corollary gripe: None of the national TV listings publications offer any clue to the local access or music channels; Show World offers equal time listings for ACAC's four channels but only an abbreviated schedule for AM15).

Cinemax heaven: Matt Dillon in Singles and Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Sigh.
It still seems as if there's not enough information. I like what a lot of the network websites are doing about this. Cinemax http://www.cinemax.com offers its own personalized viewing schedule called Max For Me. Viewers can browse the general list of movies, or look by category, director or actor. Finding pre-categorized movies annoying, I experimented with Max For Me's system, going through their title list and selecting about 100 or so titles I liked. The site then sorted this selection into my own personal viewing guide, which I was able to print out. If I actually watched all the films I picked out over the next week, I'd be watching about 30 hours of movies. Maybe I will.

Between this Thursday and the next, Cinemax very likely will get my attention, since I went to the effort of setting up this schedule. Thank heaven for VCRs - a lot of these films come on late or during the day when I'm at work. Nonetheless, having them on tape doesn't quite measure up to the see-it-now urgency of a broadcast. One Christmas I gave my brother Stephen a limited edition video box set of Gone With The Wind. A couple of days later, it was on TV and we were watching it when my mom came in. "Why are you watching it on TV when you have the video?" We looked at each other. "Because it's on TV right now," said my other brother Bill.

"Because it's on right now." Seems like many of us tune in for that reason. Is that threatening rain on the horizon? WXK27 on cable Ch 41 has immediate answers. (So do those increasingly bigger and ever more annoying local stations with their weather warnings. Ever watched a taped episode of NBC's Seinfeld only to be distracted by possible flooding in Caldwell County?) Is it true O.J.Simpson is being chased down the freeway in a white Bronco? Yep, there it is on TV. Is he guilty? No?!? There it is on TV. As horrifying as the bombing at the Olympics in Atlanta was, I couldn't get over the nagging feeling that Turner's CNN and Headline News were beside themselves with joy because they had a full-fledged terrorist incident occur right under their noses in a place from which they were already equipped to broadcast. (I heard about it on the Net when it happened - I ran and turned on the TV but it was a few minutes before the reports hit the airwaves.)

Still, with three publications and televised listings, this personalized Max For Me viewing schedule intrigued me. (Besides, film revivals are the cover story, so I've been immersed in Sunset Blvd. and the like.) I'd have to tape American Pop (6/12, 2:50am); I know it's Ralph Bakshi's dreadfully flawed attempt at an animated history of pop music but there are parts I just like to watch (though any movie that justifies juxtaposing the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" with Bob Seger's "Night Moves" has a little explaining to do. Maybe I keep watching because I keep hoping for the explanation). It's the VCR for Forever Amber (6/12, 7:30am), a guilty pleasure movie that begs for a bodice-ripping re-make on the Lifetime channel. Both taped films should fill that empty place in my Thursday heart where ER usually resides. Rapa Nui (6/13, 12:50am) and Dillinger and Capone (6/13, 4:20am) will also be consigned to the VCR, and likely not seen until the weekend since The Bridges of Madison County (6/13, 4:45pm) will give way to Stealing Beauty (6/13, 7pm) and Braveheart (6/13, 9pm). I own Braveheart on tape, but it will be on TV right then. (Maybe I'll save Rapa Nui on tape and combine it with Once Were Warriors when it shows. Kevin Costner's cinematically lush vision of Easter Island in the 1600s is kind of a stinker but might work well with Warriors, a raw, sad look at the ghettoization of native Maoris in modern New Zealand. Talk about searing performances....)

Taped shows will likely take up Saturday afternoon, which will be interrupted for Singles (6/14, 5:15pm), a film I have seen more times than The Wizard of Oz and never tire of. If I don't get to the backlog of taped movies, I'll watch them Saturday night since there's nothing on my Max For Me schedule until To Die For (6/15, midnight). I can stay up that late. I think.

Monday night will offer no respite with Diabolique (6/16, 8:30pm). Little Darlings (6/16, 3:50am), Badlands (6/16, 6:50am), and Empire Records (6/16, 1pm) have to be taped eralier and watched, although if I don't get to them, my Max For Me schedule gives me a breather on Tuesday. Except that The Bridges of Madison County is on again (6/17, 9am) - chant along with me: I'm a sap, I'm a sap, I'm a sap. And... ahem... Singles repeats (6/18, 1:30pm) on Wednesday though I will likely watch Personal Best (6/18, 4:15am), even though Mew-rial Hemingway whines and under-acts 'til I wanna slap her. (Do not underestimate the cathartic nature of forcing yourself to watch inconsequential movies over and over.)

Other than The Dunwich Horror (6/19, 8:30am), an execrable adaptation of the H.P.Lovecraft classic good for little more than seeing Sandra Dee in her post-Gidget phase (cf. the Personal Best caveat), that wraps up my Max For Me service for the week, which is good because the next two entries paired would require more than a little explanation: The Dolly Sisters (6/20, 5:30am) and The Craft (6/20, 7pm). Heh.

Well. Max For Me kept me busy. Wonder what's showing at the movies this week....

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