Michael Madsen's obesity has nearly smothered me. I've been pulled in so far that not even a massive liposuction procedure could unlock the grip ESPN's "Tilt" has over me.
This is unfortunate and pathetic, for both Madsen's health and wardrobe designer and my own pride. But the sad truth is that I'm just as hooked on "Tilt" as Madsen was jelly donuts during its production.
What happened to that guy after Species? Madsen was slim and fit, if still a poor actor back then. He seemed to gradually gain more and more weight with each Quentin Tarantino film.
Anyway, the other night during the latest episode of "Tilt," I found myself filled with that nervous tension that surfaces when you get completely immersed in a television or movie drama.
I am ashamed to admit it, but right now I think I'm at least, in the same league as soap addicts who become vicariously involved with the characters of "All My Children" or "Passions."
What makes my interest so ridiculous is the show's lamentable quality.
In the most recent episode, the trifecta of up-and-coming young guns - Eddie, Miami, and Clark - lost more than money to the Madsen's character Don "The Matador" Everest. They lost pride and their standing in Las Vegas.
Eddie, who frequently narrates, told the audience that poker doesn't stop and start at the poker table. No, if you're really a card player, he said, life is just one big poker session. That was this week's lesson.
Each week, the audience receives a moral of the poker fable. A character will extend some maxim of poker or unwritten rule of gambling to life in general.
The cheesiness is irresistible. I found my pulse racing as the show ended and scenes from the next episode played.
That may be the measure of one's addiction to terrible cable television. If you're waiting through commercials to catch a glimpse at the next episode, then you must be hooked.
From the first episode, it was clear that this would not be a show about poker, casinos, or gambling. It's a much broader stroke.
The audience tunes in for a melodrama in which the characters live life according to the rules of poker.
I guess that gives appeal to viewers who know nothing of the game.
I say it's awful but I keep plugging in every Thursday.
Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or firstname.lastname@example.org