Thursday, September 28, 2006

TV Done Broke

Indulge me, if you will, for a moment.* The image transfixing you is not Kandinsky gone electric but a frame from the father-son duel in Return of the Jedi. That red streak is Luke’s green lightsaber, the blue streak is Vader’s red lightsaber. You know that ain’t right.

Late last week the tipping-point cathode ray tube gave up the ghost, with the result that everyday people were now purple-and-green creatures.

I'm not a TV guy. Sure, I watch a few shows, watch more than I usually admit to myself, actually, but TV just isn't something I put a lot of, well, effort into. Not that it's hard to watch TV, mind you. There’s just so much else to do. My last sustained effort at following a show was for Gilmore Girls, seasons
two to four, an effort that was effectively terminated by a faraway screenwriting class that occupied the same time slot. That and that awful Logan. He just wasn’t right for Rory.

Not being a TV guy, I like keeping things simple. We don’t have cable or TiVo, or anything remotely close to being high speed, on demand, or in your face. Our $8 rabbit ears give us a dozen channels and that’s the way we like it. Still, I need a movie machine.

Luckily, I had enough phone points stored up on a little plastic card to call my buddy Adam, real-life Flash Gordon expert and curator of the Mongo Museum. He would know what to do. And indeed he did. Seems he had an extra 20-inch unit rotting in his Shadow-themed basement. We offered him an all-expenses-paid round trip to Bertucci’s and the deal was sealed.

Surveying my modest media center, I realized that the DVD player is on loan from Tom (the original, a Christmas present, having frozen upon Haldir’s arrival at Helm’s Deep), the VCR was given me by a former coworker (I'm on the second pair of headphones from him, and they're in need of more tape), and the TV I got when my grandfather died. I haven’t bought a single instance of consumer electronica in I don’t know how long.

What a wonderful feeling, I thought. We got five good years out of that TV. How long my grandfather had it, I have no idea. Contrary to popular folk tales, I am not a Luddite, freegan, dumpster diver, or
Montana militia man. I do like the idea of simplicity, however, making do with what is at hand, and wherever possible abandoning conventional trappings that no longer serve a purpose. Like the microwave, for instance, but that’s a whole ’nother story. See what the folks at Path to Freedom have accomplished with a little land and a lot of learning, patience, and care. I like the idea that a need arises and something out of left field swoops in and fulfills it, even if that something would rather gallivant in a swirling cape and flouncy boots.

The Adamic One and I hauled the old TV out to the curb for the next morning’s trash removal. I placed the remote control on top and wondered how long it would last.

By morning it was gone.

*One Thanksgiving Day, when I was a little guy, I insisted that I photograph the television, on which were playing the Detroit Lions and whomever they were playing. My parents explained that such a picture would not turn out, I persisted, and sure enough the screen appeared a murky 1970s brown in my Polaroid. But now, I thought to myself, ha-ha!, I shall photograph the TV with my new technology and we shall see who . . .


Blogger Tony Shoemaker said...


I remember that photo and your insistence. I recall because your father so boldy showed me the image and explained to me the physics of why it didn't work. Yet years later- in college during a post-caffieen induced near-coma- I decided to snap a shot of Kurt Cobain in a video on MTV. It worked. I guess it was just you. (tee hee!)


1:14 PM  

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