Looking for the lullaby channel

October 01, 2004


I've been traveling a lot lately and have had the opportunity to see

quite a bit of hotel TV. Perhaps I should specify that the hotel

programming I'm speaking of today is not the kind you pay extra for;

it's the mainstream, channel 2-to-18 TV you get in towns like


And it's all right. I mean, it's all right. It's just that in


recent years I've become accustomed to using the TV as a kind of

lullaby to fall asleep to, and in order to do that you have to have a

lullaby channel. You can't go to sleep to just any station -- or

anyway, I can't.

When I'm home I avoid news, sports and commercials, which tend to

be too strident to qualify as sleep-aids. To cushion my peace of mind

I usually rely on Turner Classic Movies. There's something about a

commercial-free black-and-white picture with Claude Rains that sends

you off to Cloudland first class.

But on the road lately I've found no TCM, so I've been compelled

to stick with standard contemporary programming. Sports and news can

be kind of upsetting if your team and your candidate are losing at

the same time.

So I've been channel-hopping at night, looking for something


I did locate a movie channel, AMC, on the Truckee tube. AMC used

to show its movies commercial-free, but nowadays it's more the other

way around.

For a while I found the new season's crime shows kind of peaceful,

because the characters all seem to live and work in a subdued blue

light. But the actual details of the crimes tend to make sleep


Of course, the Weather Channel is the most companionable of

stations. You don't get any editorializing on the Weather Channel, or

murders, or celebrities you don't recognize. You get weather, Jim.

True, there were commercials, but that mild high or low front

drifting over the Great Lakes region -- up until recently that worked

on me like Brahms on a baby.

On my last two trips the Weather Channel has featured a horrifying

series of hurricanes and has premiered a new series in which

survivors relive their near-death experiences when nature overwhelmed

them in the form of a tornado or tropical storm. It's riveting

viewing, but they should blend content with title and rename it the

Oh My God Channel.

So my recent travels have opened my eyes and kept them that way.

If I ever took my Laguna life for granted, I do no longer. I missed

it all -- my wife, my daughter, my dog, my cats, my town and Claude


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