Adventures in TiVoland
As a walking cliché who has never successfully programmed a VCR and videotaped a television program for viewing at a more convenient time, Culture Vulture admits to being technologically challenged to the point of having given up on the whole taping issue decades ago. For the most part this has not seemed like much of a loss; very little of what is offered on television is genuinely worth watching even once, let along going through the effort necessary to capture it on tape.
But the developers and merchandisers of technology are kind, or at least accommodating, to the technologically impaired, and so now we have the TiVo machine. And time is topsy-turvy. Letterman can be watched over breakfast. The Daily Show is a perfect lunchtime diversion. Commercials can be fast-forwarded through with ease and impunity.
Best of all, whole miniseries can be saved and savored at your convenience, as I did recently with the SciFi Channel’s production of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Six glorious hours of the finest Shakespearean space opera ever, complete with splendiferous costumery, gothically ornate set design, an evil duke who ends his pronouncements with rhyming couplets, giant sandworms that produce a entheogenic spice that binds the Galactic Empire together, a millennia-spanning conspiracy of women whose mission is to create a messiah through eugenics and political manipulation, and a misbegotten, psychedelicized messiah who cannot escape and therefore embraces his terrible purpose of redefining humanity.
Just the sort of thing that the 14-year-old boy who occasionally occupies my skull goes into ecstatic revels over. And that causes the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie to roll her eyes in amused exasperation. Perfect six-in the-morning viewing, in other words, so my darling can sleep as I roam the vastness of the desert planet while cozily snuggled with a cat on the living room couch.
Canine fashion update
Stella, guardian of the Culture Vulture World Headquarters back yard, generally elicits this response from visitors who are meeting her for the first time: “Boy! That dog is hyper!” And indeed she is, a veritable whirlwind of enthusiasm for anything involving fetching rubber toys, meeting new people, going for walks or loudly and ferociously announcing her presence to anyone who dares walk down the alley that borders her domain. An effective watchdog and charming companion is our little Stellie.
Inspired by Stella’s boundless energy and eagerness to please, Daphne recently purchased a doggie backpack with which to harness the pint-sized canine tornado for our excursions to the park.
Stella accepted her new burden with puzzled good grace and now proudly bears this emblem of her employment with regal dignity. And the whole endeavor illuminated our inter-species relationship: Dogs thrive on having a job and being acknowledged for doing it well. Show me a happy dog, and I’ll show you a dog that knows what its human wants it to do.
If only we humans could admit to being so uncomplicated.