High-def guilt.

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.

Posted at 10:36 am in Current events, Housekeeping, Popculch, Television |

29 responses to “High-def guilt.”

  1. Jenine said on April 10, 2007 at 10:46 am

    I’m so glad you found “annoy” and corrected it. I think it would be much too much work to annoy statistics. They are pretty poker-faced. I do like trying to figure out the brain connection of ignore-to-annoy. It’s not a fingerslip typo, more of a vocabslip.

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  2. Marcia said on April 10, 2007 at 10:47 am

    (From the commenter also known as Marciaf. I’ve always wanted an AKA moniker.)

    Yeah, the search terms are what get me. I posted about overhearing that a patient in the ER had nipple rings, and so I get those searchers. I get folks searching for meth and syringes because I have written about those in my posts about work.

    After yesterday’s iPod post, I got someone searching for “naked locker room shower cam.”

    I need a can of Freak-Be-Gone.

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  3. Marcia said on April 10, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Oh, hey, Nance, I thought of you at work the other day. There was a baby with a hand presentation. Something I didn’t know: the OB nurses will sometimes pinch the hand or other mistakenly presenting part, and see if he/she will pull it back inside where it belongs.

    This particular baby didn’t, and ended up being delivered via c-section.

    And there’s yer obstetrical trivia for the day.

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  4. Dorothy said on April 10, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Ladies and gents, I give you “TI”


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  5. LA mary said on April 10, 2007 at 11:27 am

    I’m with you completely on the big screen issue. I drive by houses at night and see TVs that fill entire walls. These are tiny houses, and I figure people are sitting about three feet away from the screen. My TV is fifteen years old and is adequate for my uses. I think of it as an appliance. I don’t leave my blender on when I’m not using it. Same deal with the TV. HBO, Jeopardy, and Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel, with occasional forays into What Not to Wear, American Idol, and Mythbusters as guilty pleasures, don’t require a four foot tv screen.

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  6. brian stouder said on April 10, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    but I bet watching a Formula One race on a big screen would be a hoot (their world-feed usually features lots of onboard shots from above the driver’s helmet)

    But then that’s why they invented sports bars, eh?

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  7. Kirk said on April 10, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    c’mon, nance. you’re not ashamed to watch “American Idol,” so you shouldn’t be ashamed to watch it in all its supersize glory, or lack thereof.

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  8. michaelj said on April 10, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Blessing or curse, I’ve no idea, but I spot typos and editing errors from across rooms. (I still make them, of course.) Even on my 15.1-in. computer screen. As yesterday, with annoy. Errors in online journals are almost always transparent as to intended meaning, but this one’s a little baffling. Some are revelatory in scary Freudian implications, some are pretty funny.

    There’s a question of etiquette involved in communal corrections of errors online. Sarcastic editing, casting aspersions on native intelligence and education, are the pointy sticks (not in civil conversation that takes place at Nancy Nall’s inviting virtual kitchen table) when things get ugly on blogs, particularly when the attacker, or cornered victim, isn’t checked out on more effective linguistic and rhetorical weapons.

    When the atmosphere is convivial, and there’s something inherently funny about the error, I say edit away. Otherwise leave it to self-correction. That’s my rule, unless the offender is just some ignoramus that really pisses me off with dumbass political or sports comments.

    The term public auction seems to take an inordinate number of beatings in print. An ad in the Savannah paper a few years ago had it in the morning edition sans ‘l’. Frantic editing produced an amended version for the pm: no ‘l’ in public, no ‘u’ in auction. I believe this was somebody fired on a Friday at lunch that came back liquored up to wreak revenge, a kinder, gentler workplace shooting.

    When the College of Cardinals elected Karol Woytyla to serve as J2P2, the Athens (GA) Banner Herald ran about a 64 point headline announcing First Non-Catholic Pope. See, he was from Poland…

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  9. nancy said on April 10, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Kirk can tell a story about the day a Columbus city councilman, suspected of having an affair with a councilwoman, was quoted in the newspaper describing their relationship as “the same as that between any two public officials.” Alas, a critical L was dropped, ironically one that made his statement something close to the truth.

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  10. Kirk said on April 10, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    and the same “l” was dropped from at least one follow-up story about the same officials. it was embarrassing, but we laughed anyway.

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  11. Cathy Dee said on April 10, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Not all HD TVs have to be huge. We bought a 42-inch DLP that has a beautiful picture, does not dominate the room, and did not break the bank.

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  12. Danny said on April 10, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    We too struggled with the big-screen-as-sacrificial-altar phenomeon that is sweeping America. And since we have a small place and an old solid oak entertainment center that we really like our stipulations were these:

    1) It could not dominate the room as an altar upon which we scarifice our lives.

    2) It had to fit obsequeiously into the current entertainment center.

    So, in february, we bought a nice sony 26-inch LCD and we mounted it inside the enterainment center on an articulating swingarm that allows us to swing it out nicely for viewing from the kitchen. We like to breakfast on the weekends while watching Rachael Ray and Paula (give me another stick of butter) Dean.

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  13. colleen said on April 10, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    When I worked at WOSU, we had a publications editor who would joke that her main job was to make sure there was ALWAYS an L in the public of public radio……

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  14. nancy said on April 10, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Doesn’t Bill Gates’ house have some sort of digital art thing going on? I recall reading something about wall-mounted flat-screen monitors that display famous paintings, and change every hour or so. That would be a cool thing to have. That might get me to Best Buy. When not displaying the Sopranos, the TV would be “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe.” Or The Garden of Earthly Delights.

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  15. 4dbirds said on April 10, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    “we bought a nice sony 26-inch LCD and we mounted it inside the enterainment center on an articulating swingarm that allows us to swing it out nicely for viewing from the kitchen.”

    Well played. I like that.

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  16. MichaelG said on April 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Try to buy anything but a flat screen TV these days. I moved into a house by myself about six weeks ago. I have a 13″ TV. So I started shopping for something a little nicer. Just this AM I ordered a 37″ LCD. It’s an off brand that has garnered excellent ratings all over the net. Price is $750 — high for me to spend on a TV but low for what you get. I was gonna buy the 32″ model for $520, but somehow talked myself up to the bigger, more feature laden model. I’m not sure how that psychology works but work it certainly did. Anyhow, the new TV will serve both living room and kitchen very nicely from its location against the front wall of the house. No buyer’s remorse yet. Maybe later.

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  17. LA mary said on April 10, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Speaking of HBO: any thoughts on the first episode of the Sopranos?

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  18. czucky Dimes said on April 10, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    First Sopranos episode: Boring as hell and way too much Janice.

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  19. LA mary said on April 10, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Thank God we now know who fathered Anna Nicole’s baby.

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  20. nancy said on April 10, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Wrong. Masterful psychological touches and a certain slowly dawning sense of Tony’s impending doom.

    I also loved the Fosamax detail. Man, these gangsters.

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  21. LA mary said on April 10, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    I like the way Carmela’s character has developed too.

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  22. Danny said on April 10, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Well played. I like that

    Thanks, but one word of caution. I am not sure how common this experience is, but the one swingarm that we really liked (because it was the proper size), would not work without modification because the mounting plate occluded some of the A/V jacks on the back of the TV. There was one other swingarm that would have worked, but it was a mondo peice of hardware that weighed as much as the TV. In the end, we modified the mounting plate on the one we liked using a small power handheld jigsaw that would cut through the metal.

    Oh, and I should mention that we modified the entertainment center slightly too. We stained some thick pine to match and used it as the structural peice that everything is bolted to and cantilevered from.

    I am very proud of the job, but I must say it was a joint venture between myself, my wife and a good friend of ours. I’ll have to post some pictures, but Nancy’s husband Alan may sneer if we did not get the screw slots vertical.

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  23. Dorothy said on April 10, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    I felt tense the whole time watching The Sopranos. I thought for SURE something was going to happen to little Nica, Janice’s daughter. All that foreshadowing… And then I thought maybe Bobby was gonna get whacked. Carmella is my favorite character on the show, hands down. I can’t stand that train wrecked named Janice. What a pill!

    (my mother takes Fosamax!)

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  24. Bob said on April 10, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    I suppose my fifteen-year-old, twenty-inch Sony still works. I unplugged it about a year ago in anticipation of an approaching thunderstorm, and never got around to plugging it back in.

    The prolonged abstinence has caused my tolerance for commercial programming to collapse, and now if I’m in a waiting room where there’s a TV, if I’m the only one present and the “off” button is within reach, I off it.

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  25. Danny said on April 10, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    That’s why the only solution, Bob, is that you whne you go you go the whole 9-yards and get Tivo or something like it. When we replaced our 15-year-old, 19-inch Magnavox with the flat panel, we did so. Though we don’t really watch any more TV than we used to (which was not much), it’s wonderful to watch it when you decide and almost commercial free. Plus, sometimes we’re watching live TV and miss something cool, you can always rewind on the fly.

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  26. Vince said on April 10, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    I’m shopping for a flat TV but have decided to wait since my old 36″ conventional TV works fine.
    BEWARE if you’re buying a conventional TV; they will only work as is for 2 more years.
    In 2009 all broadcasters are being forced to sign off their analog transmitters and switch entirely to digital.
    Allegedly, TV makers will have a converter box out by then allowing old TVs to pick up digital signals. When will they come out on the market? I haven’t seen one yet and with a two-year deadline staring us down I’m surprised.
    Let’s see.
    It’s 2009. Analog TV stops broadcasting.
    Converter boxes are just beginning to hit the market but supply cannot meet demand.
    What to do?
    Buy a new TV. Hmmm. Call me cynical, but I could easily see TV manufacturers deliberately hold back on converters just to sell more of the overpriced digital TVs.

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  27. Bob said on April 10, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Danny, I don’t know when I’d find time to watch TV. Since I retired, I’ve been so busy that I can’t figure out how I ever found 40-plus hours a week to waste at my former place of employment.

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  28. ashley said on April 10, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Brian: you have to have the big screen at home, since most of the F1 races start at bumfuck:thirty in the morning.

    We have a “tasteful” 37″ LCD flat screen, because there’s no room for anything on the floor. We could buy an “entertainment center” thing to take up floor space, but with 1450 sf and 3 kids, this is the safest way.

    And I liked this year’s Sopranos premier much better than last year’s. Besides, somebody got whacked, what’s not to like. And a French Canadien at that.

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  29. brian stouder said on April 11, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Besides, somebody got whacked, what’s not to like. And a French Canadian at that.

    my favorite foreshadow – Bobby specifically mentions ‘DNA evidence’ when discussing murder with Tony in the boat

    and then when he conducts his whack-job (and I was thinking he was possibly hitting the wrong guy, going from that photo…but now I think that was a ‘maguffin’ – and we were supposed to be misdirected by that) he leans over the victim to deliver the coup de grace, and the guy grabs his chest; Bobby completes the hit, wrenches out of the dead guy’s grip, and (very like Michael Corleone at his first hit, in the restaurant) leaves…..leaving behind a few of his chest hairs in the victim’s hand (no doubt)

    I think Bobby is going down over the murder (and he might have to commit another before he gets arrested for this one, if he really DID hit the wrong guy)

    And he made what could have passed as a random act of violence look exactly like what it really was – a mob execution. SO when the police find the hairs, they’ll immediately compare with their mob data base.

    The question is, will Tony have to whack his brother in law, when Bobby gets arrested? (I bet yes; it would be a nice homage to The Godgather – a work that this series owes much to)

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