Monday, July 02, 2007

Home shopping

When I finally moved into my place here a month ago I was presented with the option of getting cable or satellite or whatever tv and splitting it with the owner of the front house (I’m only rigged for the basic channels as it stands now). Given my situation at the time I thought “how much am I gonna be watching it anyway? I’ll see if I can get off tv for a bit.”

Give it a month. Suddenly I find my free time to be very much my own. And, given what I do for a living, it’s honestly kind of necessary to see what’s up on the ol’ airwaves. So I may bite the bullet this week and at least get the standard cable line-up.

But not having cable again has been interesting. And part of it has been downright awesome. Here's why:

LA’s basic television channel line-up is like most cities in that it runs between channel 2 and channel 13. For the most part, anyway—after that it’s pretty much just Spanish and Asian channels and local access. But the weirdest thing is smack-dab in the middle of those network channels are two home-shopping channels. Like people in the back of family vacation photos who make you think “what are they doing there?”, there they are on channel 6 and channel 8. Right on either side of ABC.

Having not watched a collective 5 seconds of a home-shopping network in probably 10 years, I’ve begun to find them fascinating. There I am, hopping between NBC and FOX or whatever when I’ll stumble across them and—BAM!—next thing I know, ten minutes have gone by and I’m wondering “who the fuck would pay $120 for a portable tv?” or “who can’t just use a toaster oven to get the exact same result?” or “who would ever need to reseal that much meat in individual airtight plastic pouches” or “wait, are they really selling a portable tv in 2007?” And the hosts are all like “this is breakthrough technology!”

It sure is! If this was also 1984 and Reagan was still in the White House.

And if you’ve ever wondered where old ladies get all those loose-fitting/elastic-waisted clothes made out of flowing chiffon-like fabrics and knitted with “intricate beading” and “delicate flourishes,” well, it’s on those channels. It’s awesome. Even the “labels” sound b-rate: Susan Lucci, Suzanne Sommers, etc. And of course everything is available on payment plans.

Listen, I’m no money manager, but I’m gonna come right out and give you a good rule of thumb: clothes shouldn’t be bought on credit or payment plans (exceptions can be made for shoes and suits). They’re seasonal. And no one wants to pay for something they don’t wear anymore.

And people will call in to talk about purchases they made! Who are these people? It all has a bit of a “Requiem for a Dream”/”keep believing” feel to it. ‘Cause you know there are people out there, credit card in hand, buying stuff I assure you they or anyone will never need.

But the best of the best came yesterday as they tried to unload an $899 Gateway desktop (I know! a Gateway! $900!) that to hear them talk about it, pretty much would have you mixing and editing your own full-length features in a matter of minutes. Of course, they had a little trouble showing you how exactly to do it given their difficulties in operating the Vista software but, they repeatedly assured the viewer, YOU would be able to. And of course they spent time talking about how this particular desktop had room for “expansion drives” and “peripherals” and “multi-layer DVD burner” as if magically the viewers had suddenly become Cal-Tech or MIT students.

I could just see one of those overpriced desktops going out the door and heading (possibly bundled up with a porcelain figurine or bad jewelry or other hair-brain purchase) out to a yard-less house in some place like Joplin, MO, or Dawson, GA. There the new owners would excitedly open it along with the requisite encyclopedia of manuals and software that all need to be loaded onto it. The kids all take a break from their home-schooling to pitch in but, alas, weeks later it all proves too overwhelming and at best the machine ends up being a glorified “email checker” or “DVD player-machine.” It’s hard drive would never be filled with “250,000 photos” or “40,000 songs” or a single “home movie.”

Oh wait, is that a vacuum-sealer/food dehydrator? I gotta go…..

2 Comments:

Blogger minus five said...

home shopping channels are addictive. i've never bought anything off tv, but i have bought something off qvc's website. which is equally addictive. i've thought for a long time now that somebody should make a movie about all of this.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Howard said...

I know! I think it's at least fertile ground for a short. Hope. Now for sale on your tv.

5:17 PM  

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