Remote In Control

I have had this particular TV, cable company, DVR and remote combination for a few years now, and am finally learning to use it.  I had some down time, and dug out the directions for the remote (now called somewhat pompously, The Navigator), and started pressing the buttons in the order that they suggested.  I found a brave new world of entertainment choices.  I can, for example, record one show while watching another.  It’s pretty rare that there are two appealing shows on simultaneously, but hope springs eternal in the human breast, and if it ever happens, I’m ready.  It might come in handy during the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, when games are being broadcast on four different stations.  That was, oh yeah, last week.  My timing remains impeccable, as ever.

If I do happen to record something, I can fast forward through the commercials.  That in itself is worth the price of admission.  With some shows, I’m not sophisticated enough to know which ones yet, there is a feature called “On Demand”.  With that, it’s like the show was recorded, and I can fast forward through commercials.

I can hit a couple of buttons and find out just what shows are on tonight.  And in that vein, here’s a link to Springsteen’s “Fifty-seven Channels (And Nothin’ On).

‘nuff said.

I can pick a channel, and find out what’s on that channel next, next after that, next after that, etc, etc, etc.  I’m not sure if that goes on forever.  One day, when I’m reallyreallyreally bored, I’ll see if I can get it to tell me what’s on in the 22nd century.  It may be some sort of a hand-held time machine.  Sort of.

I can turn on the close captioning, and rant when it covers up that close play at second base.

I can choose favorite channels, which should represent a real challenge.

I can find channels in High Definition, and squint at them to see the difference between HD and regular definition.

I can watch movies.  Well, not current movies, but pretty current, for a reasonable price.  Since I never made it to see Lincoln, that’s something to look forward to, although someone told me he gets shot at the end.  Spoiled the whole thing for me.  A real shame too, I always liked the big galoot.

This remote has so many functions that the buttons must be coded.  They are coded by position, by color, and by shape.  I have yellow triangles, blue squares, red circles, green diamonds. I have arc shaped buttons, and oblong shaped buttons.  I have stars, I have black and gray rectangles, I have ovals, I have arrows and pound signs.

As I said, I have had this TV, cable company and remote for a few years.  Give me another six months of intensive study, and I may master it.


Gotcha! (almost)

I fell into a TV show last night.  Doesn’t matter which one.  From a distance, and when you get really close, they all look a like. It’s only in that middle distance that they can fool you.

It really isn’t like me to fall into one.  I’m usually cautious, even suspicious, around them.  This one, though, must have been soft around the edge, or unusually slippery, or something.  I was being careful, just tippy-toeing around the edges when, and I don’t know what happened, I was suddenly in the middle of it.

At first, you can’t tell when you’re in the middle of one of these things, because it seems like real life.  It seems like something interesting and fun.  Something that might be worth your time.

So, I couldn’t really tell at first.  There were men and women, some were police officers, some murderers, some kidnappers, and all of them were handsome or beautiful and had perfect teeth.  The cars were all new, and there was always plenty of parking.  There were computers that could find the most arcane and personal information with just a few keystrokes.  All the conversation was smooth, witty and fluent.  No pauses for thought, no ‘um’ or ‘er’.  No one belched, or blew their nose.  Someone may have farted, but no one grinned or grimaced, so I’m not sure.  There was amusing banter, DNA samples, all the apartments that were neat and perfectly decorated.  Very similar to real life, but only similar.  A lot like it.  Resembling it. But not it.

When I realized I was enmeshed in something that was a lot like life, but wasn’t actually it, I panicked, started thrashing around, gasping for reality.  Luckily, my thrashing found a rectangular object with a bunch of mysterious buttons on it.  Buttons like ‘CBL’ and ‘CH+’       and ‘VOL-‘ and ‘Mode’.  I’ve seen all of these before, and I know that they are somehow important, but no one has ever taken the time to explain them to me. There are manuals, of course, but, well, you know.

Fortunately, there was a big, bright red button on the top of the rectangular thing with a broken circle on it.  It looked sort of like the sign for handicapped parking or handicapped bathrooms, and that seemed right for me. Spending too much time in this world could make one handicapped, and maybe the button was some kind of virtual escape route.

So I pressed it, and wow.  Talk about immediate reinforcement.  The TV show I had unfortunately, accidentally, inadvertently and through no fault of my own fallen into vanished like Snow White into a black hole.

Poof!  Gone.  You could’t even call it fade to black, more like an implosion to black.   And I was back in this world, a world of dust mites, rust, inconsistent lighting, sticky locks, frost on the windshield, flat tires, root canal, male pattern baldness, ring around the collar, and all the other inconveniences of life that make it real.  You know, real.

I’ll be more careful in the future.  I’ll wear a life jacket, and never sit in the living room alone.  It’s just not worth the risk.

News Item: “Stolen Television Sold For Drugs”

There it is.  Proof positive that television is a dangerous drug.  Soon after this story aired, an undercover operative for LAME (Local Agency Messing with Everybody) sold illegal televisions to a video pusher on the mean streets of downtown Buttermilk, Kansas.
The television components were known to have been grown on the southern slopes of a small valley in Peru, and smuggled into the U.S. in barrels of chili.  It is well known to the underworld that component-sniffing dogs are thrown off the scent by chili.  From the port of entry, San Diego, they went by barge to Tucson, Arizona, by FTD to Bismark, North Dakota, and then by Goodyear Blimp to the Bronx, New York where the components were assembled in a three-room apartment with no hot water and a broken doorbell.  LAME was tipped off to these TV’s by an informant who was promised a six-month subscription to Direct TV.  The skell in question, his name is being withheld as a material witness, drooled when he learned that the Oprah Winfrey Network would be part of his entertainment package.  Rather than simply make an arrest and confiscation, LAME chose to use the illegally grown TV’s in a sting operation.  They were overnighted by FedEx to the LAME headquarters in Buttermilk, and an agent was chosen to make the sale to a known video pusher.  The agent was wearing a wire, but next to the wire was a hidden microphone, and the following conversation was recorded.


LAME: I got a van full of ‘em, all the best quality.  All primo stuff.  Your clientele are sure to be pleased.
Known Video Pusher:  Better be.  My clientele are getting really frantic, man.  This town dried up a few months ago, and all they can get is QVC and TV Land.  This burg is gonna explode, something don’t happen soon.
LAME:  Well, I got what you need.  27-inch flat screens, I’m talking 1024 by 768 pixels.
KVP:  Got anything bigger?  Anything HDTV?  Plasma?
LAME:  Are you kidding me?  Feds are cracking down hard on that, man.  You couldn’t find one within a thousand miles of Buttermilk.
KVP:  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Damn feds.  I’m just a businessman, trying to keep my customers satisfied.
LAME:  Well, these babies will satisfy.  They’re Peruvian.  Grown just outside of Maccu Piccu.  The best, you know?  The best.
KVP:  Peruvian TV’s, huh?  Man, I heard that one before.  Let me test the merchandise. (Licks one of the TV’s).  Oh, man that is spicy hot!
LAME.  Of course it’s hot.  That’s the chili they were shipped in.
KVP (Fanning his tongue):  Wew, yeh me ee how ey wor.
LAME:  What?  Oh, you want to see how they work (turns on one of the TV’s).  See how quickly it comes on?  See those vibrant colors?  I told you, man.  Primo stuff.
KVP:  eah, bu wha ca ou ge?  Wha ay uns?
LAME:  Huh?  What the… Oh. What stations can I get.  Well, watch, and I’ll just flip through a few.  All the major networks, ESPN, Turner Classic, SyFy, you name it, this baby can go get it.
KVP:  Will you throw in the remotes?  And double ‘A’ batteries?
LAME:  Wow, bro.  You drive a hard bargain, but okay.  It’s a deal.
KVP:  Put your hands in the air!  You’re under arrest!
LAME (simulaneously):  Put your hands in the air!  You’re under arrest!
KVP: You’re under arrest!  I’m WACD! (Western Alliance for Contraband Detail)
LAME: No, you’re under arrest! I’m LAME!
KVP/WACD:  Oh, man.  I’ve been following this shipment since Bismark.
LAME:  Well, we’ve been working it since the Bronx.  Oh man what a mess.
KVP/WACD:  Well, I guess there’s nothing we can do now, except wait for our backup.
LAME:  Well, mine won’t be here for another half hour or so. Wanna go outside and shoot some hoops?  Maybe hit some fungoes?
KVP/ WACD:  Um, well, I don’t…. no.  Not really.  But I have another idea.  Let’s shoot some TV’s.   What do you say?
LAME:  Really?  Shoot some TV’s?
KVP/WACD:  Yeah.  We choose a show or a station that is especially obnoxious, and just, you know, blast it.  It’ll be fun.
LAME:  Well, I always did want to shoot American Idol.
KVP/WACD:  I’m gonna do one of those Lifetime Network movies.  Doesn’t matter which one, they’re all the same.
A series of gunshots, followed by exploding glass, follows.
LAME:  Wow.  Cool.
KVP/WACD:  Yeah.  Cool.