M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Thursday, March 27, 2003  

Gleaming the Tube

It should be obvious by now that my self-assigned mandate with this blog is to make fun of things. And since my most frequent target is myself (run a statistical analyisis if you don’t believe me, and let me know what you find out), I’ve told hundreds of people things about myself that don’t always portray me in the best light. But really, it’s always been in the name of fun, and demonstrating that I can laugh at myself balances out in the end.

But even with all the light-hearted ribbing I’ve given myself, I’ve never told you anything that makes me blush just to think about it, the kind of thing that melts me down into a glistening puddle of shame. Until today. I just hope you’ll hear me out and not judge me too harshly. And if you never want to have anything to do with me ever again, I’m not in any position to blame you.

I bought a second TV this week.

It’s actually a TV/VCR combo with a thirteen-inch screen, a cubic foot or so of electronic equipment that set us back more than a hundred dollars. I wanted to get the Brand-Nifto model that would have been twenty bucks cheaper, but our VCR from that same manufacturer has screwed us over enough times that Trash shot that idea down. So now we have a silver Magnavox perched innocently on a chair in our second bedroom, trying not to look like a repudiation of everything we stand for.

Okay, obviously that’s an exaggeration. I’m not a TV snob. I don’t consider it an irredeemable cultural sinkhole, I don’t see it as a non-artform, I don’t drive around with a bumper sticker that says KILL YOUR TELEVISION. On the other hand, I have read the studies that indicate that the average American watches nine hundred hours of television per day, and I just don’t have that kind of time. I don’t want to end up as one of those people with permanent sofa-ass.

Actually, that’s not totally true either. There is some part of me, some unambitious slug-man-thing aspect of my personality that does wish I had nothing to do all day but channel-surf, pausing only to get food, go to the bathroom, and let the electrician in once a week to change the batteries in my remote. But then, whenever I’ve spent more than 119 unbroken minutes illuminated by the flickering phosphor glow, I start thinking, “My God, my life is slipping away!” and then I get up and check my e-mail or something before I come back to watch whatever’s on next.

It didn’t used to be an issue. For several years, I was working full-time (and frequently overtime) while also taking evening classes to finish my English degree. At the same time, and for a couple of years after, Trash was also working and attending graduate school to get her Master’s degree, a schedule which barely left her time to say TV, much less watch it. The only time we had to watch TV was Sunday night, when we’d watch The X-Files, the syndicated rerun of The X-Files, and Xena: Warrior Princess (shut up—it was good for a while and you know it). Three hours of television a week, which averaged out to .428571 hours per day. That put us way behind the national average and the relatively small amount of time I spent irradiating my brain cells enabled me to make calculations like the one you just saw.

But that was then. Now we have four hours of TV to watch per week, and the uptick in our viewing habits has sapped our intellects accordingly. How else to explain our decision to switch over to digital cable? The actual box and the transition was free, I assume because the cable company isn’t making any money on old-fashioned, analog, steam-powered, wind-up clockwork cable and they’re trying to get everyone to switch to the new kind. Which, in our case, they did by not revealing until it was too late that our days of watching one show while we taped another were over. That’s digital cable’s dirty little secret, you know. And if we’d been aware of that in advance, we’d probably have passed it up, since our four hours of appointment TV as scheduled by the networks only take up two hours of the actual week. Oops.

So now we’ve got this admission of defeat locked up in the guest bedroom like the madwoman in the attic, its telescoping rabbit ears waving around like the antennae of some loathsome metal bug. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean we’re a two-TV household. We’re not! We just have a backup, is all. Trash wants me to build a little table for it. I’m wondering if it would get better reception in the garage. Or perhaps in a rented storage locker somewhere.

* * *

On the other hand, whatever brain-sucking effects I’m suffering from my increased exposure to the tube, they’re clearly not affecting Trash. I can finally tell you that she’s been chosen as the President-Elect-Elect of the Minnesota chapter of the Special Libraries Association. In other words, she’s going to be the organization’s President in two years. Not bad for one of its youngest, newest members. It just demonstrates that so many things in this world are unfairly skewed towards the brilliant and talented.

Also, yay! I get to be First Lady!

posted by M. Giant 3:27 PM 0 comments


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