Countdown to Clarity

So are you ready for it? Are you ready for the next step into the future? Are you prepared to continue our entry into the next century? Are you ready to see clearer? Be sharper? Get more? Interact? Interplay? Inter- a bunch of other stuff? Face it; are you ready for February 17th?

For months now we have had our television programming routinely interrupted with warnings being scrawled across the bottom of our televisions (usually as something key to the story we were watching was revealing vital information in the same space) that come February 17th (barring Congressional decree of a delay); if you are still using an antenna to get your television signal or to dry your laundry, that one of those applications will be eliminated for the new digital laundry… uh, to make that new digital TV signal.  Yes, the day is arriving that will finally end these seemingly endless warnings to prepare to make the change. Although, come February 17th, you know there will be complaints by those who “had no warning.” These will likely come from people who watch enough television to make Mr. Nielson go blank with terror.
The new system promises many wonderful things, whether you have the wonderful TV to take advantage of it or not. The clearer picture, brighter sound and the ability to free up enough carrier room to open the future to more programming (More? Oy!), and interactive programming as well. Why not order a pizza while watching “Star Trek.” Or, check on the status of that pizza while watching “Star Trek the Next Generation.” Perhaps pay for that same pizza while watching “Star Trek Voyager.” Or… okay the joke has run its course, but you get the pizza and the idea.
The general rule of thumb is this: if you currently are hooked up to cable television (or satellite), you don’t have to do a thing. If you are not, then you will need a converter box. If you prefer a good book instead but don’t want be left out, then get a book on the new digital broadcast systems. And, no matter your choice, know this, I will still respect you – just please don’t let them continue to endlessly hound me about the upcoming switch. People in the Mid-west should get that much warning about a killer tornado in their midst. By the way, if you are reading this in the Mid-west, you will get much clearer pictures of that tornado after February 17th. Why, you will feel the breeze.
Now, as long as I have the attention of the esteem purveyors of television, may I take the time to make a few requests? Okay, I know perhaps watching the tube takes less brain power a reading “War and Peace,” but do you really think that your viewers are so dumb that they need a logo in the corner of the screen telling us what they are watching? I mean really, you block a sizeable portion of the picture to tell me what is on the screen. News flash: if I am not bright enough to know what I am watching, then reading the title of what I am viewing is clearly out of the question.
And speaking of “news flash,” you folks over at CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, but especially CNN, please stop being more excited about the banner at the bottom of the screen telling us about the event you are covering than you are about the event itself. I watched a space shuttle launch once, and the banner on the bottom was so large that I didn’t even know that the ship had launched because I could not see the actual shuttle. Do you really need to take up nearly one third of the screen telling me that I am watching the president speaking? How about removing all that flotsam so that I can see the actual movement of his mouth. I mean, sure the eyes tell the story, but I voted for the whole head, and that usually includes the oral area at the base of the skull.
Oh by the way, Simon Cowell, Nigel Lithgoe and Simon Fuller — if I have to vote for the winner on one more show, I’m billing you! 

Lloyd E. Flyer is a freelance writer and may be contacted through the “Tolucan Times” or at Alternateangle@pacbell.net.

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