Monday, January 02, 2006

Hands on my time

Inasmuch as it's New Year's Day, time has been a recurrent theme passing through the transom of the 19 Minutes World Media Headquarters.

It starts with a question as to whether we have enough time before our 18-month old wakes up in order to complete this afternoon's entry. (And the almost immediate answer, called out from upstairs: "No.")

[extremely long pause, 23 hours to be exact]

The Time Theme actually started on New Year's Eve, as the 19 Minutes household wimped out and decided to celebrate the New Year on Eastern Standard Time, or as it's known in Arizona: "10 o'clock". We had planned to go watch the Flagstaff New Year's commemoration, which is (really) the lowering of a large metallic pinecone from the balcony of a downtown hotel. (The tradition started a few years ago with a pinecone that was made from branches and, well, real pinecones, but apparently someone decided it looked too rustic. So the downtown business leaders went with the more-cosmopolitan look that only a metallic pinecone provides.) But with Sylvi's 30-minute afternoon nap in mind, we thought that might be pushing our luck. So we opted for the Dick Clark, rockin', televised version of the New Year.

Around 9:40, having gotten Sylvi into pajamas, we switched on the TV and found out two things:

1. Sylvi enjoys Bon Jovi music. (She gets this from her mom, I believe. Or she's already entering her rebellious phase.)

2. None of the Phoenix TV stations carry the Times Square New Year's celebration live. Yes, we saw Bon Jovi, then the return of Dick Clark, and then, at 11:59, we broke away to local news, which was topped by a near-drowning in a Phoenix swimming pool. Here's the thing: It's not as though they weren't picking up the East Coast feed of "Desperate Housewives". This was an actual live event that was going on in New York City (though, I'll grant you, we kind of all knew how it would turn out). Showing it two hours later, to coincide with the Phoenix New Year, sort of goes against the whole spirit of New Year's Eve. Plus, I don't imagine most local viewers believed people in Times Square were actually celebrating on Mountain Standard Time.

We ended up watching the ball drop on CNN (on coverage anchored by Anderson Cooper), which I'm not sure is ready to take over the "Rockin' New Year's Eve" franchise, unless "rockin'" refers to a chair.


One of our last purchases of 2005 was a travel alarm clock, found in the clearance rack at Target. The 19 Minutes staff is now proud to present some highlights from the Operation Manual:

ATTENTION before you use it:

1. Please pull out the PVC insulation sheet Beside the battery-cover on the bottom, Then the music will come up. Press any Key to stop it. This is regular situation.

2. If the display shows up a disorder situation After you pull out the PVC insulation sheet, Please press the (RESET) key on the screen lide. Then the music will also come up. Please Press any key to stop it.

3. Please proceed to follow the instruction Manual after the above procedure.

So far, so good. I mean, I'd be happy to follow the instruction Manual, including such helpful instructions to use the Timer as:
Press (%) key to start non-zero setup (Count-down Timer), press again will suspend. At the moment, it may use (▲) or (▼) for liquidation.
But, lest you think that I have a problem with this travel alarm clock, I will point out that it has an alarm that sounds like a vague approximation of the "William Tell Overture" and a very spiffy mode that allows me, with one button push, to access the time in Karachi. Unfortunately it has no light, which makes it difficult to see the time in Karachi, or figure out how to shut off William Tell (when the music comes up).

Fortunately, I was able to wrap up my work with the travel alarm clock quickly enough that I could watch a few of the 730 hours of football available to me over the weekend. I quite enjoyed watching parts of ESPN Classic's Rose Bowl marathon, partly because it meant they weren't showing "Classic" billiards matches, and partly because it brought a couple of phenomena to the fore which have gone tragically underanalyzed, in my estimation:

First, of course, is the phenomenon of watching an event (in this case, sports, but it could also be a new broadcast, or even an episode of "Family Ties") that took place in your lifetime, but which now looks so horribly dated, that you can't possibly imagine how it looked modern while it was going on. And it did look modern then - even cutting-edge. The broadcast of the 199o Rose Bowl, between USC and Michigan, featured coaches wearing sweaters five steps beyond anything Theo wore on "The Cosby Show", approaching wardrobe entertainment levels heretofore only matched by that Mike Levy guy of "Amazing Discoveries" infomercials fame. The players themselves were in the "Shoulder Pads the Size of School Busses" phase. (There was one aspect of the broadcast that still rang true -- USC won.)

The other phenomenon is the ridiculous ability to watch a game that took place ten years ago, and treat it as though it were being televised live. I mean, I was pretty sure Northwestern lost to USC in 1996 (just as I'd be pretty sure they'd lose if they played USC tomorrow), but it was tough to watch the game and not root a little for the underdog - even though I could have found the result (USC 41, Northwestern 32) on the internet in about 30 seconds.

And finally, we can't let the weekend go by without at least commenting on Doug Flutie's appearance in the Patriots-Dolphins game over the weekend. Flutie came in after a Patriots touchdown and drop-kicked the extra point, a play that involves (uh) dropping the ball on the ground and kicking it through the uprights. It was the first time someone had done that in an NFL game since 1941 (also by Flutie). Patriots coach Bill Belichick deserves credit for a couple of reasons - for letting Flutie, a guy that has managed to stay in pro football until age 43 (despite the predictions of analysts who believed he would make it in the NFL past age 23), have one last 15 minutes of fame; and for remembering that at their heart, sports are a way for people to have fun; but most of all, for agreeing to let something truly bizarre (that doesn't involve drunks or cheerleaders) take place at a professional football game.

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