Clearly, you must see the humor in high-def television

January 18, 2007|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Columnist

If you're looking for cheap, easy entertainment - and who isn't these days? - here's something that's always a hit.

Get yourself invited to the home of a friend who's just sunk two or three grand into a fancy high-def TV.

Get him to put on a football game or reality show or drama or whatever.

(This won't be hard to do - he just sank all that dough into the TV, and he'll want to show it off.)

Anyway, no matter what he puts on, watch it for a minute or two.

Then shake your head and say: "Maybe it's me. But I just don't see any difference between high-def and regular TV."

Then sit back and watch the fireworks as his head explodes."What?!" he'll scream. "You don't see any difference?"

Shake your head no.

Then shrug your shoulders and add apologetically: "It's probably me."

At this point, your friend will look at you as if you're crazy.

Then he'll bolt out of his chair and grab the remote.

Then he'll start clicking furiously between high-def and regular TV programming.

"OK, here's high-def," he'll say, pointing at the screen. "You see how bright it is?"

Then after a click: "And here's regular TV. It's day and night! You don't see the difference?"

Again, shake your head no.

Offer a sheepish grin that says: I must be a little slow.

Then, as if attempting to change the subject, look around the room and say something like: "Did you guys put in new carpeting?" By now, your friend will be so upset he'll be on the verge of hyper-ventilating.

After all, he just spent all this money on a state-of-the-art high-def TV.

You're supposed to be swooning over the magnificent picture. You're supposed to be oohing and ahhing over the wondrous clarity.

Only ... you're not.

In fact, you don't seem impressed at all!

How the hell can he talk about carpeting at a time like this?! "Look," he'll say, raising his voice as he clicks the remote again. "Here's high-def, OK? Look how clear it is. See that guy there? See how you can see every blemish and wrinkle on his face?

"Now here's regular TV," he'll say, clicking again. "There's the same guy, right? And look at his face! It's not as clear! You don't see any blemishes or wrinkles at all!"

At this point, he will turn to you with a triumphant look, as if his argument has been made so soundly that a reasonable person could no longer dispute it.

OK, here's what you do now.

Continue staring at the screen for a few seconds.

Then say: "Well, to be honest, I'm not sure I want to see every blemish and wrinkle in a person's face. If you could actually see them in high-def, which I can't."

At this, your friend will clench his jaw and grind his teeth together.

The veins in his neck will be ready to burst. He may even have to leave the room to compose himself so that he does not lunge at you and attempt to strangle you.

But even if he does leave the room, he'll be back in a minute or two. Oh, yes, he's not through with you.

He won't drop this subject until he makes you see that high-def is the greatest thing to happen to TV since they added color, and he bought the best damn high-def TV on the market.

OK, so now he returns with a tight smile etched on his face.

Trying to keep his voice nonchalant, he picks up the remote, clicks on a nature show and says: "OK, here's a desert scene in high-def. And here it is in regular TV. Would you at least agree that the picture looks wider in high-def? In other words, you see more of the desert? More cactus, more rocks baking in the hot sun, more slithering reptiles, etc.?"

Study the desert scene thoughtfully for a few seconds.

Then say: "I don't know . . . they both look pretty much the same to me."

At this point, with your friend quivering with rage and about to lose control and start smashing things, you should probably leave.

Besides, that's plenty of entertainment for one day.

And if you find yourself bored a few days later, you can always go back, ask to see his new TV, and mess with his head again.

A good opening line for your return visit might be: "They talk about the great Dolby Digital surround sound you get with these things. But it sounds the same as regular TV to me. I don't hear any difference."

And just like that, it'll be showtime again.

Kevin.Cowherd@baltsun.com

To hear podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun.com/Cowherd

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