My neighbors have a big TV. Really big TV. How big is it? Can’t say — I’ve never seen it up close, because I don’t have to. If the curtains are open even a little bit, I can tell what they’re watching with 75 percent accuracy. (Right now, hockey.) And they live across the street and one door down; it’s a good 200 feet or more from my couch to their TV. That’s a big TV.
Big TVs are all the rage, now that the bugs have been worked out, now that they no longer have the footprint of a Volkswagen Beetle. Everybody I know is buying one. (True story: My friends John and Mary bought one, and hired a guy to hang it on the wall. He said he’d just finished a similar job at then-Sixer/now-Piston Chris Webber’s house. [Yes, he’s a Pointer.] He’d hung 13 of them. Thirteen flat-screens in one house! It’s like an episode of “Cribs.”)
Anyway, I guess eventually we’ll have a giant TV, too, once the price drops to $1.98, which it seems on track to do by year’s end. But I won’t feel good about it. I love TV now that TV is so much better than it used to be — thanks, HBO. I love watching DVDs at home. But my TV guilt-meter was calibrated in the days of “Three’s Company,” and there’s something about a giant TV that suggests a world of La-Z-Boy recliners with built-in cupholders and crocheted Kleenex-box cozies. It rings every snob bell I have, and I have a tower full of them. I hate myself. Why? Because part of me wants one, and the other part is covered in shame for doing so.
Here’s the thing about a giant TV: It wants to be on, all the time. I like a TV to be off most of the time. My first and most hard-core TV rule is this: If it’s on, the people in the room must be paying attention to it. If you leave the room for any reason other than a bathroom break or to fetch another beer, it must go off. Once I interviewed some lottery winners, plain old hardscrabble people who woke up one morning $9 million richer, courtesy of the state of Ohio. I caught them after they’d had the money for several months, which is to say, their old house was full to the rafters with new toys, but the new house — 1,000-square-foot master suite, cement pond out back, the works — was still under construction. There was a rock on her finger and a Corvette in his garage, and a giant TV in the living room, which was too small to accommodate it. It was mid-morning, around the time a movie old enough to shave was on TBS. I took a seat to the right of the screen, they sat opposite me. The TV stayed on. When I was talking, they both watched the TV. When they were talking, the one who was talking looked at me, the other one watched TV.
That was a formative experience in giant-TV culture. I still haven’t shaken it.
Oy, we had ourselves a day in the D yesterday. A “workplace shooting,” as they’ve come to be known. Guy fired from an accounting firm on Friday came back on Monday and shot a retiree helping out for tax season and two partners. The retiree died. The other two are still alive. Of course we have a sidebar story on how this might be avoided in the future. Grim humor within: An HR expert says Friday is “traditionally” the day to fire people. Really? I didn’t know that. I tried to think of firings I’ve witnessed, and the only common denominator they all had was the Box. You know the Box, usually a banker’s box, filled by either the fired party (or security) with the detritus of one work life — a few personal files, a stained coffee cup, a framed picture. Is there a sadder sight than a banker’s box with a “you don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps” mug overturned in the bottom? I don’t think so.
“The Office” has gone a long way toward pointing out the thousand soul-abrading, death-by-a-thousand-cuts indignities of life in cubicle land, but I don’t think they’ll tackle this subject for a while.
I predict [raises finger aloft] that we will come through this blogging thing, turn 320 degrees or so, and out the other side — yes, this is metaphor is intentional — with newfound respect for our unsung friend, the editor. Yesterday’s post was up for hours before I noticed I wrote “…for years I’ve tried very hard to annoy my site statistics.” I meant I ignore them. They’re like the quicksand of narcissism. I’ve read about people who monitor their credit scores daily, who track their eBay feedback nearly as often. And some people track their site stats obsessively, which is one reason I’ve avoided doing so. I mean, I like affirmation as much as the next person, but please.
However, Google Analytics is just out there waiting to be installed and noodled over, and today, my first day with it, was nearly enough to run me off the rails. I have a reader — or else a robo-reader — in Reykjavik. (Holla back, Iceland.) Someone came here via Googling the phrase “what hoody does TI wear in chevy commercial.” (Who’s TI?) And then there are those of you whom I can call by name. One reader in Portland (hey, Vince). One in Cincinnati (Rob!). Forty in Fort Wayne, approximately the remaining readership of the News-Sentinel. I have to stop. I have enough things to procrastinate with.