Wednesday, May 04, 2005

To Tivo or not to Tivo

Technology fascinates me, albeit not the technology that allows your turkey to cook in 45 minutes or makes your DVD spin faster inside your PC. No, I'm talking technology that produces instant gratification. And I'm not comparing technology to sex. Sex requires begging. No, I'm talking technology that, once you pick it up you can't put it down. I'm talking TIVO!

My brother-in-law was kind enough to give my wife and I TiVo for Christmas. Not just a TiVo box, mind you, but a LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION to TiVo. Personally, I'm not sure I want to own anything for life. It just makes the will more complicated. Now, when I die, relatives will fight over the TiVo box. Of course, I don't think TiVo will be around long anyway. In 10 years you should be able to reach into your television, tap Regis and Kelly on the shoulders, and pull them into your living room. But be careful with Regis because he'll be about 200 by then.

Okay, back to TiVo. When I received it, I had misgivings. "Why do we want TiVo?" I asked my wife. "We're not TV people. We hardly ever watch TV." Ah, but that's the beauty of TiVo. You see, TiVo FORCES you to watch TV, much like a bloody car accident forces you to look. And you WILL look. Even though you warn the kids, "don't look everybody, don't look," you strain your eyeball so far to the left that your cornea is temporarily dislodged, all so you can think, "GROSS! That guy is SCREWED. See what happens when you don't watch the road?"

Within minutes of activating TiVo - a three hour process that required my phone, television, cable company and electrical box to TALK TO EACH OTHER (insert laughter here) - the Schwems had joined the growing legion of families who now have one more thing to fight about. We quickly launched the "Season Pass" feature, allowing us to tape every episode of American Idol, (my daughter) The Apprentice, (me) Oprah, (my wife) and Caesar's 24x7 (also my wife) We also discovered that, because the average cable subscription comes with 342, 791 channels, these shows air almost continuously somewhere. The Apprentice isn't just on NBC. It's on MSNBC, CNBC, lo-carb NBC and uncut and unedited NBC. Okay, that last channel doesn't exist but it should. I'd pay a few extra bucks a month to see what Katie Couric looks like when she stumbles into the studio at 3:30 a.m.

Because our TiVo box holds ONLY 40 hours of programming, in a few days our box was beginning to bulge like a Kirstie Alley sitcom. TiVo politely informed me that there wasn't room to tape an upcoming airing of Goodfellas. I could rectify this problem only by deleting NEXT Monday's Oprah featuring a "frank discussion" on how to stay regular after 40. As my finger hovered over the button that would cancel the Oprah taping, I wondered about the ramifications and started to realize how Terri Schiavo's parents felt. Was it my LEGAL RIGHT to delete Oprah? Would I incur the wrath of the NAACP? WHO WAS I TO PLAY GOD?!

In the end my conscious got the best of me. Oprah remained and I drove to Blockbuster and rented Goodfellas for $4.29. I'll be watching it this morning at 4:20 a.m., the only time TiVo takes a break.

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