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Friday, December 29, 2000

I watched Sports Night on Comedy Central last night. I got to see it at 7:00, because my satellite system gives me the east coast feed. If you've ever read my bio page (now seven months old and in need of updating), I mention Sports Night as one of my favorite shows. But I don't remember it having a laugh track.

That really jarred me when I watched the first two installments last night. It's possible that the first few episodes had laugh tracks and I just forgot. Having seen the show without the canned laughter (and inappropriate applause), I know how unnecessary it is. I'll still watch these reruns, but I hope they drop the track.

Most sitcoms these days are not funny. I'll sometimes watch one episode, or even just part of one, and never return to a show because the humor is inane, or insulting, or absent altogether. And yet you hear people roaring as if Jack Benny and Burns and Allen had come back to life.

They say these shows are filmed in front of live audiences, but I don't believe it's the live audience I hear cackling at unfunny lines. If they don't have to sweeten the laugh track with the voices of audiences long dead, I'd be very surprised.

And Sports Night isn't even that kind of sitcom. It has jokes, sure, but it's subtle and literate. It was written by Aaron Sorkin, for crying out loud. And it died a premature death at the hands of ABC. For once I'm happy to have a cable network recycling old material, because for once it's a show that deserves to be seen.

Last night was garbage night, and it was not an optional one. (Thank you, Captain Segue.) I don't always have enough trash and recyclables to bother dragging everything down the long dusty driveway to the curb on Thursday night. But with the big holiday weekend just behind us, some of the piles of papers and heaps of metal were going to be over my head if I tried to let it go for another week.

The smart thing to do would have been to remember that it was garbage night in time to make the three trips to the curb before the driveway got so dark that I couldn't see where I was stepping. By six o'clock, when I did remember, I could barely see the fence to let me know when to make that sweeping right turn that gets me to the gate.

So, bundled up to keep the damp night from aggravating my cold symptoms, I made the treacherous trek, stepping in only one mud puddle and losing my balance on the bumpy, rutted trail no more than two or three times. I learned to take tiny, shuffling steps when walking in the dark.

And I learned I need a more powerful flashlight, because the one I have didn't shed enough light to tell me the difference between a bump and a rut. A few more lumens and I might have been able to see in three dimensions, which would have been helpful.

It turns out, by the way, that the local pick-up companies don't pick up Christmas trees. They suggest that you take your old tree to a recycling center (not an option, since it won't fit in my car), call the Boy Scouts and pay them to come and get it, or cut it up to fit into your yard waste container.

Right now mine is lying on the far side of the garage, turning brown. I'm looking forward to feeling well enough this weekend to chop it up with my hedge clippers.

Finally (finally!), the trucks didn't come today anyway. Apparently there's a one-day delay in garbage retrieval this week because of the holiday. So I could have waited and done all this tonight. In the dark, of course, because I would have forgotten again.

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