I'm a monkey, babe 


Between the twice-dead skin under my finger nails and jagged tooth imprints in my lower lip, I'm not a pretty sight right now. I know you're thinking that's just standard Sunday fare for the little boy who never knows when to go to bed or when to stop spending his Weekly allowance on, um, candy. You should stop thinking; I might snap back, cowering into a pool of nervous, shaky tears.

I know I have, anyway. I haven't been accused of thinking in years.

No, my visible anticipation has to do with exactly that: not thinking. The WB has promised perhaps the most unwarranted manner with which to disburse ONE BILLION DOLLARS this side of the defense budget (or any other unlubricated, right-wing handjob), and I can't wait to watch. In fact, my full intention was to be there in person, alongside such luminaries as Drew Carey, Holly Robinson-Peete and Jamie Kennedy, as they filmed said atrocity under the imaginary glow of the Universal Studios soundstages. I would hobnob with people flown in for the sweepstakes, then offer oral sex to the winner, or something comparable. I would, in short, be rich today.

Instead, I'm not. I'm poor with dirty nails and blood cakes on my mouth. Mmmm, success.

The series of calls put into The WB revealed only a few tidbits of worth, the most important being that neither I nor anybody else other than the project's principals would be allowed anywhere near the set. Oh, and that a monkey would be utilized (real name Kendall, but for the purposes of the show "Mr. Moneybags" -- genius) to choose which mon(k)ey balls would crown the dumb-eyed winner of the twist-top Pepsi campaign.

Stop thinking. I see you.

And so it is, that I'm knees-up-nail-biting on the couch, trying to repel sociological cynicism as the closing credits of "Steve Harvey's Big Time" (a man can make sandwiches with his feet, charmingly) and anticipating the arrival of the apocalypse. The lights come down, "ONE BILLION DOLLARS" flashes across the screen like a stuffed rabbit to a greyhound, and I die just a little.

"These are brand-new, redesigned $20 dollar bills," chuffs Drew Carey, before introducing us to the "most important primate in the history of television!" And seeing as he can't be introducing himself, Mr. Moneybags (er, Kendall) comes loping out, providing that necessary role model to the kind of people who watch television on Sunday nights. People like me.

Pepsi's "Play for a Billion" has attracted the expected mélange of Midwestern depression; 1,000 lemmings of substantial girth led to the slaughter. Tapes are shown of what must be a fictitious plane ride containing all of the candidates, with several showing their ample asses. "I'm gonna win a billion, bab-eeeeeee," and other such epithets litter a human-interest segment that might end better with a crash into Cinderella's castle. But I'm just being mean. And hung over.

Flash to "21 Jump" Holly Robinson-Peete, who is busy shaking 10-sided dice in a cocktail glass while a couple of lawyers look on. Thoughts cross my head about the sinister juxtaposition of Robinson-Peete, Carey and a monkey, but I squelch them. I'm not supposed to think. You neither.

"I confirm," lips a lawyer after each number is chosen.

One, seven, eight, two, three, eight, and it's done.

So why have a two-hour show, then? Hell, the lottery only takes a public-access two minutes. The answer, my dear, is so that we might watch the fat people suffer.

"I don't know if you know this," Klans Carey. "But I think a chimpanzee picked the fall schedule for The WB."

So, there it is. Drew Carey, singularly responsible for the slothing of America, is pointing fingers at his meal ticket and laughing at you. Very savvy.

Ten victims are chosen for an overlong elimination round that, rather complicatedly (math is hard, and stuff) sees them either choosing to take home some tens of thousands of dollars, or hold out for a guaranteed million (which can turn into ONE BILLION DOLLARS) with a direct match. Or, into nothing, assuming the law of averages is correct. Dammit. I'm thinking again.

Eternal charmer Carey asks of one man with a picture on his lapel, "Is that your picture of Beyonce?"

"No, it's my wife."

Drew goads contestants into accepting less money (as I'm sure he's paid to do) by saying things like, "Now when someone you know needs help, you don't have to feel sorry for them -- you can give them money!"

Shouldn't somebody in the control room be breaking in with a story of the Bennifer breakup? Is there no justice? Or mixer?

Here, The WB wisely clicks into variety mode, giving three teen-agers Mitsubishis (the car, not the pill) and engaging two teams of college students in a bizarre geography quiz. Two hot girls from UCF and two ugly guys from hell robotically recite memorized information; both teams in search of a round-the-world Marriott trip. "Bho-go-ta" and so on. One remembers that a monkey came in third in a Brazilian election, and I'm starting to see the significance. We're no better than monkeys. Fer sure.

By the end, the taste of mercury in my mouth is unbearable. Or is that vodka? Anyway, down to two. One promises to give his money to church and to start a cancer foundation. The other wants a Viper and to pay off his credit-card debt. Ladies and gentlemen, the American Dynamic.

Not surprisingly, the fat man wins the million -- the West Virginian with religious ties and suspenders -- and the race for a billion plays on superfluously. Turns out Richard had all of the numbers but is off in order by two. Turns out I stuck around for nothing. Turns out I'm a monkey. Stop thinking.


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