Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Big Screen TV is Sucking Out My Brain

When we renovated our 40 year old house, we added a Man Room above our garage. This is nominally my home office. It was supposed to be place where I would read, reflect and practise my saxophone. Except I went out and bought a Big Screen TV. Now instead of improving myself, I am watching Seinfeld and The Office re-runs.

A few years ago I got hooked on a group of my favourite series; ER, The West Wing, NYPD Blue etc. One day I had the revelation that these shows had taken over my life and that I was actually scheduling things around them (including taping the shows if I wasn't going to be around). I also realized that I wasn't reading and as I had just recently started playing saxophone, I wasn't practising. In a rare moment of self control I resolved to not watch TV anymore except of course for hockey and football games. This I mostly kept until the BSTV came into my life.

My relationship with TV has been on and off. We got our first TV in 1961 or 62. It was a large black and white set which my parents actually bought used. We had an large antenna on our roof which in Victoria enabled us to get all 3 American Networks plus some Canadian channels. My parents actually exercised some restraint on what we watched. We watched very little during the day and my parents tended to only watch the CBC news and public affairs programs. And Hockey Night in Canada of course. This is at least what I remember.

Cable came to Victoria in 1965. Every other house on the street got cable. We didn't. Worse my principled parents took down the antenna so as to not be the only house on the street with one on their roof. We instead got rabbit ears. It was a dark time in my life. We could only get three channels. Consequently I missed most of TV during the 1960s; I am horrible at Trivial Pursuit Baby Boomer Edition.

We did finally get cable around 1970. Our TV was still black and white. One day my father came home from visiting a friend incredulous that on his friend's TV you could actually see the puck roll. We got a new TV. I believe it too was black and white but we did soon get a colour TV.

Even in the dark days without cable our TV had a place of honour in the living room. My parents set the agenda as to what we could watch which for the most part was whatever was on the CBC.

My wife and I when we got married both agreed to limit our TV exposure and as soon as we got a house, our TV went down into what we called our family room. Our living room became a sanctum where we entertained company or sometimes read when we didn't want to watch TV.

When we initially got our first vacation dacha, we decided there would be no TV, we would read and play board games. We soon broke down and bought a TV which we watched rented movies on plus whatever we could get on rabbit ears. A couple of years ago I finally got cable. I rationalized that people wouldn't come over to our house on Saturdays because they wanted to watch hockey. Plus I got internet.

Meanwhile at home, only having one TV lead to no shortage of conflicts especially at playoff time. When our children were younger, we watched slightly risque movies on my laptop in our bedroom so as not to corrupt our children (actually watching sex scenes with your adult children is kind of creepy too). Therefore I like to think that getting the second TV has increased the harmony in our household. Now I can watch TV sports, the History Channel, and of course Seinfeld reruns without any guilt or conflict. Except of course at the growing pile of books which I seem to buy faster than I can read them.

And my brain is slowly being sucked out.

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