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....