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Film, FINALLY, at 11

By Fay Jacobs


Fay Jacobs

The trouble began when I slowed down. I'm sure you've heard me whining about needing time in the slow lane. Well, Sunday was it.
In fact, the morning rain inspired me. I didn't put my glasses on until 1:30 in the afternoon and then, only to dial the phone to cancel plans. I didn't get out of my pajamas until 5 p.m., spending the entire day on the sofa with Bonnie, the dogs, the TV remote and a staggering assortment of junk food.

Sadly, immediately following Face the Nation, the television offerings turned into a wasteland. Between Pet Stars ("Let's welcome Hoagie the ping-pong playing pooch!") and Shear Genius (Hairdressers, rev your blow dryers!) Sunday viewing is not fit for (wo)man nor beast.

Sometimes it's not fit for man AND beast - like the game show where contestants drop a ferret down their pants to clock how long they can keep the thing from crawling out their cuffs. You should see the screaming and clutching of clothing. By the ferret. Hey, big boy, is that a ferret in your pocket or are you glad toI could not possibly have made this show up. It was in the midst of this ferret commotion when the incident happened.

My 12-year-old, 27-inch television got the hiccups. The screen erupted into black and white squiggles accompanied by an ear-splitting static attack.

I put down the cheese doodles, unfolded myself from the sofa, the dogs, and my mate, marched over to the set and gave it a whack. Everything returned to normal, or as normal as it can be when you are watching a man with a ferret squirming in his trousers.

Life was good for another hour or so, (by this time, thankfully, we found a movie to watch) until the screen exploded into a purple haze requiring me to disturb everybody again so I could go whack at it.

By late in the day, I needed Head-On, apply directly to the forehead, and the television needed a whack job every 15 minutes.

The inevitable conversation ensued. Do we see about fixing the TV or do we do what we really want and buy a big honkin' flat screen TV?

For a few minutes, Bonnie and I pretended there were two sides to the argument. Ultimately, we realized the antique TV is monstrously heavy and neither one of us wanted to load it into the car to seek medical attention. Also, TV repair persons went extinct so long ago we were still calling them TV repairmen.

Negotiations broke down so we went to bed and the next day I talked to my friend the accountant, who generally doles out conservative financial advice. He said that if it was his TV he wouldn't bother fixing it. After all, in two years we will need a new one anyway when High Definition TV becomes the law of the land (ahead of, I'm sure, the Employment Non-Discrimination Law). Alrighty then. We went to the Sony outlet. "Just to look." I didn't believe that either.

Have you tried to buy a TV lately? You need a diploma in quantum electronics. Question One: LCD or Plasma? After a 50-minute lecture I still couldn't tell them apart, except that plasma would bleed my wallet dry. We chose LCD.

Next we had a choice of a set with1029 interlaced pixels or 720 progressive pixels (I always lean toward the progressive), different aspect ratios, viewing angle specs and something called a bit rate. I bit my lip and stared at the clerk like he had sprouted antennae.

"I want one with a black border," I said, hoping Bonnie could figure out the rest.

In the darkened display theatre I stood watching seven screens simultaneously show copulating moths while Bonnie listened to the salesperson drone on about color temperatures and video dithering -which apparently has something to do with contouring the output. Or, in the vernacular, has something to do with us dithering around at Sony trying to keep our heads from exploding. (Head-On, apply directly to the forehead).

I awoke from my technology coma to ask, "Do we just take one of these home and plug it in like a regular TV?"

"Just like a regular TV," said the adolescent clerk.

For the finale we had to deal with the size question. Did we size queens want a 32-inch or 40-inch flat screen LCD? Standing in the 8,000 square foot store, we were pretty certain the puny 32-inch was way too small.

Our first clue should have been the trouble the Sony kids had getting the box into the car. We drove it home minus the carton. Then, our second clue should have been the compulsory gymnastics routine we had to execute getting the appliance in the front door. But we dragged it inside and perched it where old reliable Mr. 27-inch (don't go there) once stood.

Whoa! TV, where you taking that living room?

Let's just say it looked like the Movies at Midway landed in the confines, and I mean confines, of my little house. Aesthetically speaking, it was the TV that ate the room.

Recognizing my decorating dilemma, Bonnie sensibly said, "Well, let's sit down and watch something and then decide."

Righteeo. The thing had a gazillion inputs and outputs and peepholes and plug-ins. I wanted to stick the little Sony clerk into one of them. I'd never seen so many cables. An hour later Bonnie had enabled picture and sound simultaneously and we sat down to watch Anderson Cooper because by this time it was very late.

God, you could see each strand of his gorgeous silver hair and determine what color Max Factor foundation he'd used on his baby face. I should have been listening to news about the G8 Summit and all I could think about was whether Anderson should have had that lower front tooth capped. What? Mom Gloria Vanderbilt couldn't afford the orthodonture?

Omigod, political reporter Candy Crowley had a big zit on her chin. Next, on Law and Order they were checking the blood spatter patterns in what seemed like my entire living room.

I LOVED the big screen picture.

My spouse then informed me that we weren't even watching in High Definition yet.

For that pleasure we'd have to pay an extra $5 a month to Comcast. But more importantly, I'd have to wrestle down my aesthetic demons. How could I have a TV bigger than my cocktail table?

So did we go back for the measly 32-inch screen? No. For once in my life, did I choose function over form? Yes. One look at a Dodge Durango commercial with wide-screen mountains, streams and sky, there was no contest. So what if my living room looks like the RKO Multiplex.

Now I can't wait for Sunday to see those giant ferrets in humongous trousers. Head-On, apply directly to the Mastercard.
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her columns are collected in the books, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and the newly published Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach.

Fay is Publisher and Managing Editor or A&M Books, the publisher of the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 25 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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