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Darrell Huckaby - 09/27/09

I can't figure out how to watch TV anymore.

Now that's a sad state of affairs, but it is the honest truth.

To begin with, there are too many stations to choose from. I called my provider this week to complain because I couldn't pick up a particular football game. The guy in India told me to turn to channel 614.

First of all, I shouldn't have to talk to somebody in India about watching a football game on television to begin with - but channel 614? Whatever happened to 2, 5 and 11?

There is not a knob on my television. Not the first one. If I want to turn it on, change the station or adjust the volume, I have to have access to the remote control. And where I leave the remote control when I turn in for the night and where I find it the next day is never, ever, ever the same place.

Never.

I don't know what happens to the remote control because nobody in my household will even admit to ever having moved it, used it or even watched a television program since "Seinfeld" and "Friends" went off the air - but the thing is never where I left it nonetheless.

And sometimes when I do find it and press the button that is supposed to turn the television on, nothing happens - or if something does happen it is something bad. I mean I will have a picture that is nothing but static - didn't we used to call that "snow" on the screen - or maybe I will have a solid blue screen or a black one.

I have discovered that when that happens the TV "input" has been changed to the Wii or the Sega or the DVD or the VCR or some other contraption that I didn't even know existed. Then I have to search for yet another remote control that no one has used and figure out which input button to mash.

See how complicated it gets?

And when I finally do get the set working it is an enormous task to find the particular show I hope to watch. There are certain channels for regular shows and certain channels for high definition and certain channels that have been programmed to record this show or that show and sometimes I will be watching a show and a message will appear on the screen informing me that the channel is about to change automatically because someone - obviously someone a lot smarter than me - has programmed the TV to record a particular show on a different channel.

All in the world I will have started out to do is sit down and watch something that makes me laugh for 30 minutes. All I'm doing is seeking a brief respite from my mundane existence. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently so.

Things were so much simpler back in the good old days. I would come in and thumb through the TV Guide and discover that I could watch a variety show with jugglers and animal acts and maybe even a ventriloquist on one station or a sit-com on another or an hour-long police drama on the third.

That was it, Jack. Three stations. Three choices. Cut and dried.

There were no shows with angry chefs throwing carving knives at poor people hoping to learn how to cook. There were no shows making fun of poor slobs whose thin bodies are trying to escape a 300-pound prison. There were no shows with slutty and semi-slutty girls trying to secure a proposal from some loser who couldn't get a date in the real world.

There was a variety show on one station, a sit-com on another and a police drama - or maybe a good Western, on the third. And I knew that whatever show I chose to watch, I wouldn't have to leave the room if a female member of the family walked in.

Once I decided which show to watch, all I had to do was walk over to the television and pull out a little knob on front. This would turn the set on. Then I would rotate another knob to one of the three available stations. That was it. There was nothing else to do - no remote control to look for, no "input" button to press. All I had to do was turn on the set - possibly adjust the volume - tune in my show, and watch.

If a commercial came on it would last for one minute - not four or five - and I would sit and watch it, too. If I got bored with the show I was watching, I could walk across the room and tune in a different one - or turn the set off and read a book.

See how simple life was? And if I did watch a show in which someone was going to win a prize - the show would provide judges. There was no one for me to call or text to voice my opinion.

Yes, life was so simple back then - and my "laptop" was a Blue Horse notebook and a ball point pen.

But life goes on. And while I am thinking about it, does anybody know if I can record "Dancing with the Stars" and the new show about the hot 40-something with the 20-year-old boyfriend while I'm watching a rerun of Friday night's "Monk" episode?

I'm just asking.

Darrell Huckaby