April 05, 2006


Did you see "The Sopranos" on Sunday night? It was great. The only problem is I'm still on the road looking for colleges for my son J.T. So I watched the show in a hotel room that charges 2006 prices with 1950s television sets. I'm homesick. I miss my television set. Here's a column I wrote when I first got Direct TV.


I've had two wives, both wonderful women who have only wanted the best for me.

My parents doted on me and granted me my every whim.

My five children are always there for me, always concerned about my well being.

But no one in my life has ever been as concerned with satisfying my every need as my new RCA Victor Direct TV remote.

Like many other men, I realized many years ago that mastery in the bedroom did not involve that yucky physical stuff but involved control of the television remote. But yesterday's television remotes were kid stuff only capable of changing channels and lowering volume until one's spouse dropped off into a fitful sleep.

Now along comes the mother of all remotes. Part TiVo, part mistress, sleek, shiny . . . the type of remote that makes a man master of all he surveys.

It's a love affair with me and my new Direct TV remote. Yes, there are many things that separate us and, yes, there is a religious and age difference. And, when I hold and caress the Direct TV remote in my hand and feel its cold plastic touch, I must admit the buttons are a little too small for my chunky fingers.

Now when I close my eyes at night I know that the Direct TV remote is searching for programs and movies that will make me happy. I press "menu" and go to "Personal Profiles" and the machine gently asks me a long list of questions about what type of programming I like. What type of shows do I want to see? What will make me happy: Westerns? Horror? Fantasy? If I click Sports, it asks me to rate my interest in each type from zero to 100%.

It's uncanny. I'm asleep and the machine is programmed to search the 800 channels for a program that will make me happy. It lives for my pleasure. If I fall asleep with my television set on one of the 800 channels, it takes note as to where I stopped. When I wake up, I quickly take my remote in hand, aim it at a little box on the screen called "Suggestions," click on it, and there are the suggestions that my Direct TV slaved all night to find me. Twenty or 30 shows that will be on that day.

I'm a little new at this and I almost caused the Direct TV memory chip to have a nervous breakdown last weekend.

On Friday night I was alone and so enamored with my new love I never even left my bedroom. I surfed the channels and kept resetting the personal profiles. I patiently listed Football as 100% and Wrestling as 0%. I told the memory what I think of soccer (not much) and, no, I am not interested in watching archery, etc.

By two in the morning I had checked out just about every channel. My remote was kind enough to show me how to eliminate the shopping channels and a few others that I wanted out of my life. Then I stopped on something called Vivid Channel, which, it turns out, is an adult channel. I clicked on, paid my fee, and suddenly realized I had made a horrible mistake. This was not sexy, this was ugly. I mercifully drifted off to sleep after a few minutes. The Vivid Channel was on all night.

The next morning I surfed around and then I jumped up to get dressed and inadvertently left the television tuned on to a Spanish language station. I didn't get back to my new love until after midnight on Saturday and, like in every new relationship, one must be careful not to send out the wrong signals. My new remote and my Direct TV had spent hours based on what they perceived to be my viewing habits searching for programming that would make me happy. The suggestions? The poor little innocent Direct TV receiver had searched the airwaves looking for Spanish porn. The suggestions were all in Spanish except for "Sex And The City" or any movie or HBO title that contained the word Sex.

I was touched. There was no message that said "I've been slaving over a hot programming guide and you're not interested." No. My remote didn't even looked disappointed. It just went on looking for a program that I would enjoy. As I type this, I know the remote is talking to the Direct TV receiver and they're saying in their own language what no human in my life is saying:


If you wish to comment on "Jerry's Ink," send your message to jerry@dfjp.com.

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