Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hello, Out There In TV Land

An old vintage black and white television set with a snowy screen.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl growing up in the '70s with a black & white TV that was hooked up to an antennae on her rooftop in the countryside of New Jersey.  And for those of you who don't believe there is countryside in New Jersey, Google "NJ Bear Hunt."  It's a fun read when you don't live anywhere near a wild animal that could eat your cat as an appetizer.

But I digress.

Yes, I was that little girl, living in the wilds of New Jersey, on a blustery hilltop, when the TV antennae would inevitably "stop working."  Which would mean my dad would have to "go on the roof" and twist the antennae while we'd scream from the family room window "Still no picture!" or "Awww, you almost have it!"  The drama really kicked into high gear when ice and snow covered the rooftop shingles.

My father would go through this because there were five of us kids, and one television in the house.  He and my mom were wildly outnumbered.  But one fuzzy TV with eight channels could buy him all kinds of time for reading the local paper or sorting nails in the basement.

Cut to modern times.  We have two kids.  We also have four TVs, two desktop computers, three laptops, an iPad and iPhones laying all over the house.  We have DirectTV HD with, seriously, HD-DVRs attached to every TV.  Because you never know when you need to watch an high-def episode of "Phineas and Ferb" at 3 a.m.

Clearly, we are not in dire straights when it comes to screens in our home.  But when one TV recently ceased working, Mike called me in a state of panic while I was AT THE GYM (a.k.a., THE HOUSE BETTER BE ON FIRE BEFORE YOU CALL ME HERE!) to enquire about the blank screen.

Mike: "When were you guys going to tell me the TV in the living room isn't working?"

Me: "I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.  Good-bye."

Mike persisted. "Did you KNOW the TV is NOT WORKING?!"

Me: "It was working a half-hour ago when I told Ryan to turn it off."

Mike: "Well it's not working now and I have to go to Costco to buy a new one!  When will you be home?  A TV won't fit in my car!  DAMMIT!"

Somehow, Mike held it together until Ryan and I returned.  And within two hours, the old flat-screen was in the garage -- waiting for the "correct" day when we could put it to the curb without being hit with a fine or jail time by town officials -- and the new, (obviously BIGGER) TV was in place.

Now, see, what I used to like about watching TV was it was mindless.  You turned on the power button and it worked.  But that, apparently, was a little too mindless. These days, potential viewers choose how to turn the TV on by picking the HDMI 1 or HDMI 2, or AUX, or URSOSTUPID button to get it on.  And once you get the fancy new TV on, and you see that people look blurry if they turn their heads too fast!, you get to choose how to stop this fresh hell by going to the viewing menu, which includes: "standard," "better," "you-need-a-PhD-to-program this,""URSOSTUPID, give it up."

                              Picture Menu

Mike was seriously programming the TV for two hours to watch an episode of "Modern Family."  Children were born into the world, major contributions to science were made, Hollywood added another awards show to its roster and STILL he was programming the TV.

Mike, called me in a good 27 times to gauge his progress.  "Okay, how's this?"

Me: "Awww, you ALMOST have it!"

At least nobody was sliding around on a rooftop for this....

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Let's Get This Party Started -- A Day Earlier!

Can someone please tell me why the Super Bowl is held so late on a Sunday night? Is it due in any part to heavy lobbying by Budweiser?

Sunday games are always at 1 or 4 o'clock, Eastern Standard Time. At least, as far as I know or need to know. Or care to know.

But the National Football League has succeeded in turning the Super Bowl into a nationwide celebration. It's to the point where you're eyed suspiciously if you say you have any other plans than to be glued to your set on Super Sunday. So why does the party start so late??

Certainly, I'm not against a party. Who doesn't like stuffing their face with chips & salsa, chips & dip, chips & chili, chips & cupcake icing? (Let's face it: by the end of the day, the real dip is all gone, and so is all judgment.)

And that's just part of the problem with holding the Big Game hostage until 6:30 p.m., EST. People start the partying at about 2 in the afternoon. By 3:30, they're half in the bag. By 4, they're done with snacks and moving on to burgers, ribs, chorizo nachos, Buffalo chicken pizza, duck chili, the neighbor's cat.

Cut to 6:30: Game Time.

Party Goer #1: "I think I'm gonna barf. Whose idea was it to eat chips and icing, anyway?! And where's Fluffy?"

Party Goer #2: "I'm wrecked. Whose idea was it make Jager margaritas?"

Party Goer #3: "I'm in full hangover mode so everybody shut up. Zzzzzzz...."

If kids are in tow, this is about when they've had enough of the Super festivities and they're crying, fighting or entering their fifth hour of embezzling food and soda contraband, right under the unwatchful eyes of their disengaged parents.

Parent #1: "How many cookies has Susie eaten today? Did she even eat real food?!"

Parent #2: "Who cares! I'm losing my buzz, don't make it worse. Can't somebody fix the tap on this keg?!"

By half-time, if the kids aren't passed out with food all over their faces, clothes and hair, they're begging for a sleepover.

Parent: "You have school tomorrow. No sleepovers."

Kid: "School?! I'm not going to school! Today's the Super Bowl. This is like Christmas. You don't go to school the day after Christmas! I want a sleepov..."

Parent: "Get in the car! Party's over!"

Kid: "What?! Waahhh. I hate you! I hate this house and everybody in it! Waaaah."

A scene like this usually ends up with observers muttering, "I may be bloated and bombed right now, but at least I don't have to sober up for that crap...."

And for most everyone (though not me, thanks to my teetotaler husband), halftime marks the moment when people start questioning themselves:

"Should we stay or should we go?"

"Am I close to winning the pool?"

"Can I even sober up in the next half hour?"

See, for East Coast fans, the game doesn't end until around 10 at night. And for some, the festivities will go much later this year -- depending on whether it's New York or New England that takes home the trophy.

Now, if the Super Bowl were on a "Super Saturday," all this would be different. People could pass out on the floor and stay there. Or, as a favor to the host, start sobering up at 9, drinking coffee at 10 and driving home at 2 a.m. They could deal with the headache and salt overload all day on Sunday, and arrive to work Monday. Still half-bloated. But at least they'd BE there, possibly in a productive state of mind.

And are there any stats on how many kids bail on school because they've been forced to stay at their uncle's party waaay too late for reasons beyond their control? Test scores everywhere are at risk!

I say enough! For the good of this country, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the NFL, the presidential candidates and party people throughout these United States of America.