7/25/07

TV's got her TV eye on me.

A few weeks ago, I told my dad that I didn’t think I wanted to lug my 27” TV to Baltimore with me.

I have a sort of pimp/whore relationship with television, because I love it but it doesn’t love me back. I always ask it, "you love me don't you," and it says "you know I love you," but I can tell it's lying, and it just wants my money.

So I haven’t had cable for a long time, because when you have cable, TV becomes an even suaver pimp. Cable is like television's Cadillac.

But even when I don’t have cable, you’d be surprised how easy it is for me to just give myself over completely to the medium. Sure, I have to alter my sleep schedule a little bit, but it’s really very easy.

Give it a try, via thought experiment.

You wake up at 2:30 in the afternoon, just in time for Jeopardy! You totally kick ass until they get to the category about Prussian monarchs of the 8th Century, and you get mad at the contestants for knowing such ridiculous shit. Then you pretend like you’re smarter than they are because they don’t know what who Declan MacManus is ("Elvis Costello, you idiots!" you scream, looking up from the empty potato chip bag into which you are clipping your fingernails).

Then, while still in a bit of a groggy stupor, you half-watch Dr. Phil, but you feel uncomfortable reveling in the interpersonal agony of idiots, bigots, addicts, and sluts, so you take the opportunity to put on clothes, do some half-hearted calisthenics, and listen to some songs that you know by heart at a low enough volume that you can still hear people accuse each other of being untrustable.

Then (unless Oprah is talking about something awesome, which is a very real risk), you take a half-hour internet break until 4:30 to check your email. You bypass the serious stories, but read the novelty stuff on respectable alternative news sites (“Nude woman saves baby from rabid pitbulls in Antwerp,” "The best lite beer under $8"), and then read what people think about some albums you don't care to hear.

Then, you catch Malcolm in the Middle, an hour of the Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Seinfeld. This all-star "Rock Block" will constitute the high point of your day.

Already, it’s 7 o’clock, and the networks have started their prime time ratings-grabbers. Hell’s Kitchen, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars. A 60 Minutes Mystery, Dateline, 20/20. The sheer variety is enough to make you thank the almighty antenna that you live in such a wildly pluralistic society. Three hours of that and you’ve powered through to 10, just in time for breakfast and another short internet break, because all that's on is *M*A*S*H* and late local news.

At 10:30, you can watch Letterman or Leno, but they're painfully average, so there’s always Seinfeld and then an hour of Scrubs on Fox. The quality/charisma drop off between Conan and Carson is always a little bit jarring, but before you know it, it’s 1:00 AM and you’ve barely broken a sweat!

Unfortunately, the networks go into a bit of a slide, so this is the ideal time to take a shower, eat lunch, drink some whiskey if you’ve got it, and force yourself to blog because you so badly want to engage with other human beings after 11 hours of abject detachment. Then, god bless him, at 3:30 AM there’s a rerun of the Bernie Mac show.

After that, you feel like you really ought to go to bed, because it’s 4 in the morning, but you don’t process the fact that you woke up at 2:30 in the afternoon, and going to bed now would mean sleeping for 10.5 hours, which you’re not biologically geared to do. So you do what you always do when you’re getting ready to sleep – throw on a DVD of the first or second season of Arrested Development, despite the fact that you've memorized nearly the entire series – and 3 hours later, you've slid off into a shallow pauper’s grave of sleep devoid of any personality or character and filled, if at all, with dreams that convince you you’re living your life the wrong way. But the great thing is, you wake up at 2:30, just in time for Jeopardy!

Is your soul crushed yet?

So you can understand my hesitancy to want a television around me when I am, hypothetically, trying to overhaul my life from the wheel wells to the hazard lights. One important thing to do, when you're trying to give up being a whore, is to leave the pimp who wants you to have sex with people for money.

But not my dad, though. Oh, no. My dad is turning me out. He's picking me up from the train station and driving me right back to the stable. He read this as a hesitancy on my part to carry the television to the U-Haul, and then from the U-Haul to the elevator, and then from the elevator to the living room of my apartment.

So, for my birthday, he bought me an LCD TV with a built-in DVD player. It's so fucking awesome.

And here’s something I didn’t know. Even in the faraway rural environs of Iowa, they’ve started broadcasting the syndicated networks digitally. So the once distorted face of Tina Fey on 30 Rock, the once fuzz-washed ramblings of morally misguided Wife Swap contestants, now come through in pristine ones and zeroes that defy analog snow.

These ones and zeroes somehow manipulate a bunch of liquid crystals into an anti-realistic, but perfectly recognizable shape.

I swear to god, at some point it stopped being technology, and somebody accidentally invented magic. Liquid motherfucking crystals.

So, not only do I get the five major networks, but apparently they also digitally broadcast The Tube, which plays music videos 24 hours a day. I just watched some Counting Crows video with Courtney Cox. It was terrible. But now, it’s “How’s it Going to Be” by Third Eye Blind. I fucking love this song. And now it’s a bunch of 16 year-olds trying to fondle Rob Thomas’s balls as he shakes the token hands of those in the front row, and I wonder, first, how does Rob Thomas merit a live album with a promo clip, and secondly, why is Rob Thomas such an efficient, skillful, and even charismatic live performer, and most importantly, when exactly in history did music and sex become inextricably linked?

Yesterday, they played Prince’s “Purple Rain” and immediately followed it with Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain.”

Football season starts soon.

This is my concern.

2 comments:

nickbujak said...

I was raised on television. Not good TV either. We had one of those old unnecessarily large satellite dishes installed when I was like 8, but only payed for a subscription for a couple years. But, if you were crafty like me, you could use the remote to make the dish point itself at seemingly random points in the sky to get B-rate cable shows. We're talking Blossom, Roseanne, Grace Under Fire, and the first season of Pokemon just repeating itself constantly.

So those were my bread and butter shows, and I watched them all day every day. The pie in the sky that my satellite somehow intercepted would play long blocks of these shows, 3 or 4 hours at a time. If I didn't get at least 8 hours of Grace Under Fire during the week I might completely fucking lose it.

And TV's hold on me is still as strong, which is why I have a simple solution: bring the TV, don't get cable. I mean, sure, you might intercept a few fuzzy channels by accident, and be dangerously tempted by 3 news stations broadcasting the same local news almost simultaneously, and a robust variety of daytime Judge Judy type shows, but those shows, while threatening, are a decidedly yellow, orange at best, threat level. They ain't no red.

That way you can watch your movies and get your netflix DVDs once every couple of months (when you decide to return them, perhaps, in your posh apartment building, to the mailbox in your lobby).

D said...

I'm telling you, man, digital broadcast is a dangerous creature. I'm watching professional wrestling in glorious high definition. So screwed. So, so screwed.

But, yeah, it's all about willpower. And hopefully soon I'll have some stuff to do.