How to Watch TV


Last year God (or somebody even more powerful) decreed that my old rabbit-eared TV was no longer worthy and that broadcasters must go all-digital.This meant we could no longer receive anything but an Albanian drum circle and a station that ran The Knute Rockne Story on a continuous loop.Soon I couldn't take even one more for the Gipper, so we had to get cable.


1000 channels and nothing to watch!But the cable box came with a Digital Video Recorder.Forget that arcane VCR flashing 00:00 as it tapes the wrong shows with perfect ease.The DVR records multiple programs simultaneously!We never have to miss an episode! We can skip commercials!We donít have to surf-and-settle because we have every episode of Three's Company on tap.


"Fleegle" (as we call our DVR) can also "replay" live TV with the touch of a button.During the World Cup, I had to take a phone call and missed some excitement."Just run it back," said my four-year-old.But instead of hitting the back-up arrow and getting to see it all in reverse, I erased Fleeg's LiveBuffer (turning it into a DeadBuffer)."The game is gone," cried my kids.I consoled myself by waiting for commentators to intone their explanations of what I'd just seen (because viewers are too stupid to understand for themselves--I certainly can't) and running the footage back and forth so we could laugh at their speeded-up head-bobbing.


This all gives me a false feeling of power, but with Fleegle, I'm never really the master.Whenever the DVR decides to, it changes channels to "capture enhanced content," meaning long infomercials and promos that it DEMANDS I watch.It insists I press THUMBS UP or THUMBS DOWN on things my thumbs are indifferent to.It uses this knowledge to sneakily record things it believes I'll like, such as The Knute Rockne Story.Once you realize it's judging you by the recordings you set up, you start trying to impress it with National Geographic specials and British sitcoms.It sees through this and gets "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" and every re-run of "Bewitched."While I'm sleeping, Fleegle captures foreign flicks that it wants to see and deletes the "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" episode I haven't watched yet to make room.It has no shame.Perhaps it should be renamed "Zeebo Sneako."


Warning:your children have access to ALL recordings.Do not record off the Playboy XXXX channel if you don't want your five-year-old asking, "Why don't you ever wrestle naked with the pizza delivery man, Mommy?"


The list of saved programs I still haven't watched is miles long, but I don't have to feel guilty, because when they "expire," the DVR will cheerfully erase them.Every rose has its aphids.


Next:3-D TV!I can't wait.