Friday, January 1, 2010


Watching a test pattern is a lot like watching Keanu Reeves: it's lifeless, two-dimensional, and doing just might mean you're crazy

We have one television.  This is a conscious decision on our part: there was a moment, ten or twelve years ago, when there was a teevee in the living room, and a teevee in our bedroom, and a teevee in our son's room, which was hooked up to the video game machines.  We have a small house, a house that realtors often call "a starter home" -- three bedrooms, two baths, and "lots of charm", all tucked into a cozy 1600 square feet.  When there were three teevees, we might as well have been living in one of Cornelius Vanderbilt's mansions: family togetherness was placed on the altar of personal preference, as we each disappeared into the warm blue comfort of The One-Eyed Educator of our choice.  ESPN in one bedroom, Nintendo in another, Disney Channel in the living room: we barely saw one another.

So we got rid of two teevees.

Compromise is the watchword of a one teevee home.  Right now, we're watching the great, throbbing stupidity that is "The Matrix", something my older son finds intriguing.  My daughter is lobbying for some nasty bit of treacle that features Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez, with Wanda Sykes as the sassy personal assistant.  When The Matrix goes to commercial, we flip to Jane and J-Lo.  It's like being beaten with a tube sock full of oranges:  no bruises, but the pain is real.

Pain, even the lingering pain of Neo's first meeting with Morpheus, even the deep trauma of Comic Hijinx with Hanoi Jane and Jenny From The Block, eventually fades.  Compromise is forever.

We don't know how to compromise anymore.  We are flooded by choice, everyone in front of his own screen, watching programming tailor made to his personal tastes.  When all entertainment, all information is Balkanized, when all the world is Luby's, allowing us to take extra helpings of only the stuff we like, compromise is a quaint anachronism, like black and white television or rotary dial telephones.

It's dangerous, this path we're on.

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