September 16, 2004

Watching television yesterday.

I watched a few of the news shows yesterday, including that Dan Rather "60 Minutes" interview with the feisty octogenarian Marian Carr Knox, whose line "I know that I didn't type them, however, the information in there is correct," makes me think it would be good to collect a lot of quotes under the heading of: Greatest Unintentionally Comic Yet Politically Revealing Quotes. Rathergate, like Watergate in its time, is a goldmine of quotes. My favorite old Nixon quote of this type is "We could do it, but it would be wrong." Anyway, despite the comedy, I found it difficult to watch the Rather show for two reasons.

First, Rather seemed very strange, anaesthetized and zombielike. Well, the poor man has been through a lot. Lost sleep? Who knows? Or was he just talking in that eerie whisper out of kindly deference to the unusually old interviewee? She seemed completely up to the interview, however, so there was no reason not to ask at least one tough question, most obviously, about her political predilections. Knox seemed quite ready to provide just the information Rather wanted, because several times after answering one question, she'd add "But I will say this" and then drop the very nugget Rather might have needed to ask another question to get. I'd love to see the pre-interview for their little session.

Second, my TV decided to start dying a slow death about a week ago. It's more than 15 years old, and it's been a trusty TV all this time. It's seen a lot. And it's a kindly old TV to up and start dying the way it did, slowly, just giving up on the color red, allowing things to drift into the green and purple gradually. It could have just suddenly gone dark or silent and then we would have said, "Damn, we have to go buy a new TV." This way, the realization has grown slowly as the realization that red is really gone sank in. Part of the eerie unwatchability of Dan Rather for me was the purple lips, the gray skin, the cyanotic creepiness of the picture itself.

I can solve part of my problem by buying a new TV. Chances are Dan Rather will still be on the new TV, but at least I will have red back, so if he ever blushes, I'll be able to see it.

Any tips on buying a new TV? I need something for the big room, to replace a 32" TV. Chris and I drove over to Best Buy to look at the TVs, and the array of products is mindboggling. The price range is insane. The store fed a continuous loop of giraffes into its TVs. How can you judge picture quality looking at giraffes? They have a nice sharp reticulated pattern that looks spiffy against zoo greenery, but I'm interested in how the human face will look. How can you tell if you want to pay extra for HDTV when all they show is a high definition loop? I want to know if regular shows are going to look weird on HDTV. The Best Buy guy was ready to explain everything in detail, but a minute into it, I get that high-tech-information-burnout feeling and just wanted him to go away. What is this EDTV? Wasn't that a movie about a guy named Ed who was on TV? Is a plasma screen better in any way other than being thin, or is it actually worse aside from its thinness? I really don't know. Well, I will have to go through at least another day without being able to see the newsmen blush, because I left without buying anything. Maybe I'll just crank the color adjustment down to zero and watch the news in black and white, the way I did back in the Nixon Era, the time today's news keeps getting drawn back into anyway.

UPDATE: Thanks for the TV-buying tips. I ended up ordering this. One solid fact about TVs I think I figured out is that the conventional CRT screen has the best picture. That simplified the search, as did my decision to limit myself to Sony, highly rated on C-Net and in Consumer Reports and a brand I personally like. After that it was largely a matter of size and deciding whether to go for the widescreen and the HDTV, which in the end I did. I bought the thing on the Sony website, and they are supposedly going to hand-deliver it, set it up, and take out the trash, so I'll be reporting back on how well that worked out. I wonder if they'll remove my old TV, the redless hulk.

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