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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Farewell My Lovely"... and Hello the Behemoth!

I want you to take a good long look at this...

This Zenith television set was the one that Lisa had in her apartment when she was a grad student at the University of Georgia. In other words, from the very beginning of our dating relationship, this TV set has been there. On weekends when I drove to Athens from Asheville to visit her (which was practically every weekend) we almost always went to Hollywood Video and rented a movie, or I would bring one from my collection. Just off the top of my head, I can remember us watching M*A*S*H, Lady and the Tramp, A Clockwork Orange, The Wizard of Oz (that was the weekend in January 2002 when I wound up buying Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and we rented Oz just to see if that "alternative soundtrack" thing works... which it really does!), Tron, bunch of others. The one I'll always remember is the weekend we rented Deliverance, not long after we'd done this rafting trip: Lisa hasn't said anything about doing another raft/canoe trip since.

After we got married, Lisa brought this TV set from Georgia to our new home in North Carolina. It's been a faithful fixture in our living room ever since. We've watched more DVDs on it than we care to remember. It's had a Gamecube and an Xbox hooked up to it. A few weeks ago Lisa watched me live on TV during the televised school board candidates forum on this set. It started out with a set of bunny ears that barely picked up reception at times, to having digital cable service.

To say that this TV set has seen us through a lot in the past six years would be an understatement.

Well, this isn't "goodbye" at all, because we've decided to move this set into a spare bedroom and it'll no doubt see more use for some years to come. But for awhile now it's been messing-up when showing a lot of red on the screen, and the upper-right of the screen has this permanent "dirty" look that is really obvious when it's an overwhelmingly white image. The only movies that I've been able to watch on it for the past year or so without any noticable loss of quality has been the Matrix flicks: guess 'cuz those are either very green or very blue hued.

Long story short: as trusty as this TV set has been to us, Lisa and I decided a while back - and we felt we deserved treating ourselves to something after all the stuff we've gone through lately - that it was time for an "upgrade".

I've spent the better part of the past five days immersing myself in as much material about high-definition television as I can find. Until this past Sunday I'd never even heard or cared to know about "HDMI". Neither had a lot of things having to do with choosing between a plasma screen and an LCD set entered my mind until this week. There's probably two-dozen sites dealing with HDTV that I've bookmarked in my Mozilla browser in the last few days. Phone calls were made. Friends consulted. And in the end, Lisa and I headed off toward Greensboro early this afternoon to do some comparison shopping... and possibly even come home with a new HDTV set.

We visited Circuit City and Best Buy (we've also done a little bit of looking at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter). From the beginning we'd thought of getting, at most, a 32-inch set. Well, after seeing some sets we liked and comparing some things and steadily whittling down the candidates, we found one that we really liked a lot. So we pulled out the checkbook and bought the thing...

...and it wouldn't fit into my car! We'd driven my Corolla to Greensboro 'cuz it's been really cold and rainy today and it heats up better (I think anyway) than Lisa's Oldsmobile Cutlass. Well anyhoo, we tried but there was no way to get the thing in. We drove to my parents' house to see if we could borrow Dad's truck: but he's got this huge toolbox in the bed of it that would leave absolutely no room for an HDTV box. We headed back home, got Lisa's car, and made a return trip back to Greensboro to make another attempt at transporting it. This time we were able to squeeze it into the back seat... after removing it from the box (which was broken down and stowed in the trunk).

It was about 6:30 when we got home this evening. I watched a little bit of TV on the old set of the live news (and tonight's edition of Political Soup) coming from the station I work at. Then I unplugged everything from the wall and the TV and the digital cable box and the Xbox and the Gamecube and the DVD players (yes, plural: one of them doubles as Lisa's karaoke machine), had a heaping big mess of cables and such in the floor, and then commenced to figuring out how to set up this thing.

An hour and a half later after beginning the operation, with the new set sitting on the TV stand, I pulled the protective foam wrap off of the HDTV. I think Lisa and I both gasped at how big the thing was. And in that moment of awe, I gave it a name...

Behold: the Behemoth!

Thirty-seven inch LCD screen high-definition television set, manufactured by Sylvania. With HDMI and more input/output plugs than I've ever seen on a single appliance in my entire life. Incredible picture. Awesome sound. "Larger than life" would describe it pretty well: I swear, Robert on Everybody Loves Raymond looked twelve feet tall when we first tried out the thing. The picture I took does it no justice: that's a scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on standard HBO, and in real life it looks terrific enough. We're due to get the HDTV hookup from the cable company on Monday, and I can't wait to see how that's supposed to be even better.

This thing absolutely dominates the living room. You can be standing on the far side of the kitchen and see everything with stunning clarity. It's like that "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Frank's 2000 Inch TV" come to life.

All things considered: I think Lisa and I may have made a wise investment with this HDTV set. Something I told her this afternoon when we'd stopped for pizza at Pie Works (we'd already bought it but this was after our first failed attempt to bring it home): this is going to be the TV set that our children grow up watching. Ain't that cool??

Well anyway, that was our big adventure today. And now I'm going to go see if I can use the component cables that I bought a short while ago to hook up our DVD player to it and give that a quick whirl: can't wait to see how The Fellowship of the Ring looks :-)

EDIT 12:32 AM EST 11-23-2006: The last time I saw The Fellowship of the Ring this good, it was almost five years ago in the theaters. I also put my DVD containing The Baritones and Forcery in and other than some artifacting with Forcery (which may be relative to the bitrate it was encoded at to squeeze onto the DVD) they look pretty darned good too. It's definitely the biggest screen that I've ever seen my own movies on :-)


Anonymous said...

""Farewell My Lovely"... "

Oh man. Nothing more painful than retiring an old tv. Especially one that provides many good memories. I shall play taps ;-)

When my Mother and Father got married (1967), a wedding gift to them (from my Grandmother on my Father's side) was a 25 inch color tv. They seperated when I was about 6 years old. Mother got custody of us kids and the tv. I spent many a weekday afternoon and the weekends growing up in front of that set. Watching my favorite cartoons on Saturday mornings. My favorite syndicated reruns of all kinds of classic tv shows, the entire weekends and hollidays watching so many wonderful movies.

I believe it was in 1981 or 1982 when the set conked out on us for good. We called a repairman who told us it would be cheaper to buy a brand new tv set than pay him to fix it. So we bought a new tv set. But the old one stayed in its place for a couple years more before we finally threw it out.

Speaking of the tv show sesame street, which you have a clip of Bert and Ernie below, I went to school with a kid named Ray (I don't recall his last name). We never spoke to each other in or out of class. Not out of any animosity, but we just went our seperate ways. I went to school with him from 2-5 grade, and in all that time, we never spoke one word to each other that I can recall.

Only once did I ever go to his home. An apartment actually. A tiny one at that. He was ill with something. Cant recall what except that I already had it or was
innoculated against it. My mother dragged me to his home for this one and only visit. I havent the slightest idea how my mother knew Ray and his folks. Because in school, we never exchanged one word between us. So it was a mystery to me how my mother knew who he was, his parents were, and where they lived. I didnt even know that info, and I went to school with the kid. In any case, we arrived at his apartment, I was taken immediately to his room where he was laying in bed. My mother expressed her get well wishes to Ray while I looked around his tiny room. Up against one wall, there was a whole another wall of hundreds of beautifully wrapped gifts that reached way up to the ceiling and completely covered the whole wall.. Christmas was months away, and I later found out that it wasnt his birthday, so I wondered how the heck did Ray get
all of those get well gifts. How many people does he actually know?

In third grade, me and Ray, among all our other classmates were in the class play. Every class in the whole school put on a play in the auditorium. It was practically mandatory at the time. I don't recall what Ray's part was, but I was nothing but a crowd extra. A piece of litter to be more exact. The play was a musical about pollution and litter. The evening of our performance, during the play, I noticed a guy with a pretty large camera, constantly standing up on his seat, and taking a picture of us all as we performed. The guys flash was quite bright and was almost blinding. About a day or two later, Ray comes to class, bringing with him that day's newspaper. Not some small time newspaper, but one of the major dailies (New York Post, if I recall correctly). In the centerfold of the paper was a two page spread on our play consisting of mostly pics. I had no idea why such a big time newspaper would be that interested in our little nothing musical. The newspaper got passed around the class from desk to desk. When it finally got to be my turn, I ignored the text, and scanned the two pages looking for a photo of me. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I KNOW that the photographer had taken a few pics of me (I was up front and center stage singing my heart out while that cameraman with the blinding flash took those pics), my picture was nowhere. The closest I ever got to be in one of the pictures is where in one scene in the play, I am standing in the wings with my back up against a wall, waiting for my cue to come on stage. The photographer got a pic of the curtain that was blocking his view of me, but got the girl standing on my left in the wings with me, also waiting for her cue. Grrrrrrrrrr........

Fast forward: Then one day in 5th grade class, the teacher mentioned off handedly that Ray was one of the regular kids on the tv show Sesame Street. We all stared at Ray like he was from another planet. That very afternoon when school let out. I hurried home and turned on the (25 inch color) tv to watch Sesame Street to see if Ray would appear. Sure enough, a half hour into the program, there he was. Him and his little brother, running back and forth across my tv screen as letters and numbers were being recited. Over the next few days I watched Sesame Street even more (At that time I watched Sesame Street pretty irregularly and couldnt believe that I didnt notice in all that time that one of my own classmates was on the program), watching him and his little brother appear in more taped segments as well as get to interact with all the muppets. (Lucky

Watching Ray on Sesame Street, it all came together. All those gifts he got that reached up to the ceiling and covered an entire wall in his room. The NY Post giving a two page spread in the centerfold for a small time 3rd grade play, etc.

After 5th grade, I was sent to another school. Never saw Ray again. As far as I know, he never became a big time celebrity.

Anonymous said...

"Thirty-seven inch LCD screen high-definition television set, manufactured by Sylvania."

By the way, we have a 60 inch big screen tv in our rec room, a 25 inch in our living room (that used to be my old bedroom tv, but it got replaced by a 27 inch, so I moved the 25 inch to the living room) and a 20 inch in my brothers bedroom.) The 60 inch tv we bought about ten years ago. On sale. (a floor model. That is, one that they used for display on the sales floor) Its not an LCD or HDTV, obviously. Its just a rear projection model. But its like going to the theater. We used to have cable tv. But now we just watch DVDs and play video games on it. Cant get regular tv with it unless its hooked up to one of those outdoor atennas which we dont have, and no one is about to climb up on the roof to install one. :-)