Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

September 20, 2012

Graves: The "pleasures" of home entertainment

Dan Graves
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — In today's world of high technology, we have a variety of ways to inform and entertain ourselves right at our fingertips.

Push a button or scoot a mouse across a pad and the universe is at your beck and call. Would you like to know how fast the earth is traveling as it makes a circuit around the sun in a 365.26 day year?

The answer is 66,970.558 m.p.h. courtesy of a science web site. No wonder we have problems trying to keep our hair properly styled in a solar wind of that velocity.

Since such scientific trivia as that doesn't appeal to most of the masses, we naturally turn to television to keep us entertained.

I have to confess to not being a big fan of TV, but in the evening or when it's raining or snow is blowing and drifting around the house, I flip on the old "boob tube."

That is, only after I carefully study the remote to make sure I push the right button.

I've seen instrument panels on aircraft that aren't as complex as those demonic devices that control our televisions Ñ And, woe be unto he who pushes the wrong one.

I'm completely illiterate when it comes to using one of the things, but I've learned by experience what happens when you goof. In the middle of an episode of Pawn Stars (just at the moment when Chumley, one of the characters on the show, is about to say something profound), I tried to adjust the volume level, hit the wrong button and got a full screen full of snow and a loud hissing noise. When this happens, which it does quite often, I take the only step I know.

"JUUUUDY, this blankety-blank thing has messed up again." With two TV's, I can watch Duck Dynasty or Swamp People while she watches Dancing With The Stars.

However, she is always on call and responds quickly when a crisis occurs. It's humiliating to not understand how to work a remote, especially after years of working in a technical profession, but how is anyone supposed to understand the function of a button on a remote that says "View Live TV." Shouldn't there be one that says "View Dead TV"?

Some buttons make no sense at all. Such as, one says FWD while one directly above it says Skip FWD. Does that mean that if I thought I might FWD and then change my mind, I simply push Skip FWD and move on to something else? T

he same thing applies to Back and Skip Back. Then you have the SWAP, PIP, DEF, and INFO buttons. But heaven help you if you accidentally push any of the SAT, TV, VCR, or AUX buttons. Any of these will leave you with the snow and hissing and no other recourse if your technical guru isn't available, than turning the @#$@% off and sulking around the house grumbling and whining.

Finally, the correct button is pushed and the next episode of "As The Stomach Turns" comes on (not the real title, but the men out there get my drift). It seems John has wronged Jane again and the shouting match is in full swing. It's impossible not to get into the mood of the plot and soon you're shouting, "You go girl. Give him what fer. John, you snake, how could you do that, whatever it was, to such an innocent girl like Jane? You oughta be horsewhipped." Just as things get real interesting the screen fades to black and a pair of legs appear. Whoa! Now this is more like it; adult movies in the middle of the afternoon.

Then, for a minute, a soft feminine voice announces the advantages of shaving your legs with the latest ladies razor, guaranteed to leave no nicks or scratches. Back to the program where another conflict takes place between another couple with lots of shouting and weeping, that is until another commercial pops up two minutes later. By now thoroughly disillusioned about the future of any civil relationship between men and women, it's time to surf the channels.

If you're lucky, one of the 600 channels will be showing your favorite classic movie. It has been on for only 15 minutes but you haven't missed much because commercials have been on for 14 minutes of that time.

Finally, here's Robert Redford starring as Jeremia Johnson, a man who gave up on civilization to lead a life as a mountain man, in deadly hand-to-hand combat with a Native American. Yeah, manly stuff. Again, two minutes later, fade to black and a stern face appears.

"Are you a victim of mail fraud? Has your life and your income been destroyed by the unscrupulous actions of the US postal service? Call us here at Lickim, Stickim, and Kickim. Our only business is to see that you are protected against such nefarious actions. We're here for you, the people. Call us ... right now."

Six more commercials later, it's back to the movie... for 3.2 minutes.

A commercial appears with a dozen people dressed like guests at a demented Halloween party singing something about blah, blah, blah, I Need Cash Now, followed by others shouting, "It's my money and I need it now." A cultured gentleman appears and says something about helping us poor slobs get our money from structured annuities or settlements. What's a structured annuity and do I have one? I immediately rushed to our financial folder to see if we had one of those. Sure enough, there it was, the dreaded investment that I couldn't touch without that gentleman's help; but, by the time I got back to the TV the commercial was over and I had forgotten the telephone number.

After a few hours of watching commercials for various drugs that spent 15 seconds telling me what they would do for me and 45 seconds explaining what they would do TO me, I was brain dead.

My IQ had dropped to 39 and I had watched about 30 minutes of programs.

Might as well get the lawn mower out and blow the snow off the sidewalks. At least that will be far more intellectually stimulating than trying to figure out which button to push on the remote to turn the blankety-blank thing off.