Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The revolution will be televised

Yesterday was a big day at Casa de Casselberry. Big. Grande. As in, things will be changing far too much to ever go back.

First, a bit of context: My family has always been behind the times when it comes to technology. We'll join the party a good two to three years after various innovations become a mainstream part of the culture.

The microwave? Everyone else had one first. We were still heating up Hungry-Mans in the regular oven.

A VCR? At least we didn't get one of those top-loading ones. But again, all of my friends had long begun assembling a collection of movies on videotape and never had to miss a favorite TV show.

A personal computer? This one is really embarrassing. I don't know how my sister and I went on to college with only an electric typewriter/word processor to work with. Even when we finally got one, it was a Mac - and that was before they became cool again.

Due to this near-Luddite upbringing, I'd like to think that my sister and I - now adults with semi-disposable incomes of our own - have managed to outgrow our parents' tendencies. We still lagged behind a bit when it came to cell phones and DVD players, but at least we're not the only kids in the neighborhood looking for pay phones and movies on VHS anymore.

We might not be a step ahead of the curve, but at least we ride the crest of the wave. (Did I just mix two cliches there?) We have digital cameras. We're not using dial-up to connect to the internet. We listen to iPods when we're working out (or in my case, pretending to work out).

But when it's come to cable television and all that it currently offers, I've acted more like my parents than I'd care to admit. (Cable TV, by the way, was something we got long after my friends did. However, my parents did unwittingly make me one of the cool kids by subscribing to the Playboy Channel.) While everyone else has been upgrading to digital cable and feeding on hundreds of channels, I've been puttering along with my near-basic package of 80 or so choices.

But hey, at least one of them was HBO. Ian needs his "Sopranos," "Entourage, "Deadwood," and "Wire." Actually, my insistence on pulling in HBO forced me to partially upgrade my service. Comcast required a digital box for a premium channel. And that began the feeling of "You can look, but you can't touch." I could scroll down the digital guide menu and see all the channels that were available. But I couldn't watch any of them, thanks to my stubbornness (and frankly, willingness to part with disposable income).

The tipping point was the end of my VCR. About a month ago, the thing decided that it would rather eat videocassettes than play them. I tried to address the problem rationally. But trying to pry a cassette out the VCR's mouth with a screwdriver, only to realize that four episodes of Battlestar Galactica were now mangled and lost, sent me over the edge.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. And the VCR didn't either - especially after I euthanized it. Not one of my most mature moments in this lifetime. There was throwing, smashing, and stomping. I wasn't going to be satisfied until I cracked it open and left its innards sprayed all over the floor. But you know what? It's not healthy to keep those feelings inside. Or so I hear.

My friends were happy for me. Now I could finally join the 21st century and get a DVR. But I still resisted. Money was a bit tight. And I still had my eye on replacing the laptop that left this earth approximately three months ago. (R.I.P., you hunk of junk.) So I thought I could get by without taping any television. I was home most evenings. I would just make sure I was in front of the TV when my favorite shows came on. That's how they used to do it in the old days, right?

But then people would call while these shows were on. Or I wouldn't finish my work in time. The biggest problem, however, was that the baseball playoffs demanded my attention like never before. Even with the networks showing mostly reruns, I was still missing too much. I was out of the loop. I'd fallen behind on some of my favorites, like Nip/Tuck and the aforementioned Battlestar Galactica. I had to face reality: This was not working.

So yesterday, I finally gave in to progress. (Plus, I have a little bit of money to burn now.) I got me one of those fancy-schmancy DVRs. (And as a result, I had to upgrade my cable, so I now have NFL Network. Oh, and other stuff like the National Geographic and Sundance channels, but they don't show football on those.) No longer will I be missing my shows. And if I want to watch House in the morning over breakfast, I can. Last night was wonderful. Me and my remote control in bed, under the sheets, setting recordings for my favorite programs.

I'm positively glowing today. Complete strangers are asking me for my secret. I grabbed the woman behind me in line at the coffee shop this morning and just kissed her. Dipped her and then laid one on her. And she didn't slap me. She just fixed her hair and smiled. Because she could tell I was a changed man and had to share my joy with the world.

It is a brand new era at Casa de Casselberry. One in which I will watch even more TV. Oh, I should be getting plenty more done.