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My Gentile TiVo
By Rob Bloom
My TiVo is a Gentile. I mean it; the damn thing's gone all Goy on me. And believe me, you shouldn't know from it.
The whole mess started about a month ago when TiVo entered my life. I should've guessed that TiVo was going to be "difficult" when I discovered it was just a hair too big for my entertainment center. Then again, hindsight is always 15/20, or 20/20 with Lasik. And really, how was I supposed to know there would be problems? After all, following an extreme makeover of my setup which saw the DVD player switch places with the VCR and the stereo relocated to the shelf where I keep my assortment of dead remote controls, TiVo was up and running. Was it ever.
TiVo, you see, has a feature where it studies your viewing habits, then suggests other programs that it feels you might be interested in ¾ sometimes going so far as to actually record these programs for you. So after about two weeks of typical Rob Bloom viewing patterns ("hey hon, it's the Puffy Shirt episode. Come watch this!" and "Is this the one where Nanny Fine's dog destroys Lamb Chop?"), you can imagine my surprise when I scrolled through TiVo's library and discovered what the device had been recording behind my back. I'm warning you right now: what I found was shocking. Disappointing. Completely and utterly unsettling.
My TiVo had crossed into The Gentile Zone.
[Cue "Amazing Grace"]
Instead of suggesting programs that were related to what I had been watching,
TiVo was recording what it wanted: Gentile Television. Bizarre images were flashing on my TV screen, displaying this foreign land where characters drink a lot of beer, have tool sheds in their backyard, and find humor in jokes that begin with 'You might be a redneck if...'. Oh and also in this strange land, men spend A LOT of time on their cars. When they're not working on them, they're talking about them.
MAN 1: Nice ride you got there. (takes swig of beer, sloshes it around, swallows slowly through gritted teeth) What year is she?
MAN 2: '65. I just finished restoring her. (sweat droplets fall from his forehead as he takes a long swig of his beer) I put in a new carburetor, transmission, battery, oil filter, radiator and drive shaft. I also stuck in a new engine, which I built from scratch out of four batteries, a ball of rubber bands and a can of SPAM.
MAN 1: So what're you gonna do now? (sips beer, grunts, adjusts crotch)
MAN 2: Take it all apart, then put her back together.
(They toast each other and chug their beers)
Seriously, this was TV?!? Where was "Seinfeld"? "Curb Your Enthusiasm"? Woody Allen? And why, for the love of everything neurotically Jewish, was TiVo giving me countless episodes of "7th Heaven", "Mama's Family", and what was this, Larry the Cable Guy?!?
TiVo had fired the first round of shots in its rebellion against Jewish entertainment
and I was pissed. Where were the characters I could relate to? The plots that mirrored my own experiences? C'mon, I wasn't asking for much. Just the basics:
- The series should be set in a culturally and ethnically diverse city such as New York.
- Scratch that. The series IS in New York.
- One or more of the main characters must be neurotic, whiny, or desperately wanting to get married.
- At least 17 minutes of one sitcom episode must revolve around a pastry, bread product, or deli sandwich
and a character's resulting allergic reaction to one of these items.
- All of the above
- A, B, C but not D
- Who am I kidding? As long as there's the occasional Yiddish-ism, I'm a satisfied viewer!
Problem was, I wanted New York but I was getting Salt Lake. Something needed to be done. I tried to be patient with TiVo, giving it more time to learn and understand my viewing choices. Anytime I was flipping channels and saw Jon Stewart or Fran Drescher, I'd gently encourage TiVo by pressing the Thumbs Up button. Mel Brooks: Thumbs Up. Adam Sandler: Thumbs Up. Moe, Larry, Curly: Up, Up, Up. It was my way of telling TiVo, "Hey buddy. This is the type of stuff I'm interested in watching. Now be a mensch and record this for me." Similarly, giving a Thumbs Down to "Little House on the Prairie" was my way of saying, "Never EVER tape a show about a guy named John Boy who drinks milk with dinner."
Foolishly, I thought I was actually getting through to my spunky nemesis. And then, last Friday happened. TiVo had recorded, get ready, five episodes of "Hee Haw," basically saying: "Go sit on a Driedel. I'll tape whatever the hell I want."
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a Jew-litist. You know, the type of person who blindly supports Jewish entertainers, regardless of their qualifications ("who cares if she's got a unibrow, a wonky eye and a beard, she's one of us!"). No no, I'm not a Jewcy snob at all.
I'm an entertainment snob. You see, "Hee Haw" doesn't appeal to me, not because it's the very epitome of Goyish TV where cast members dress in coveralls and straw hats and
say things like "I'm fixin' to git me some vittles", but because it's bad writing, bad acting, and all-around bad television! However, the Jew in me is fine with this dreck! It's the writer in me that wants to grab the nearest pair of coveralls and strangle myself.
So where does this leave me? I've got a rebellious TiVo that wants nothing to do with my culture and, instead, seems intent on converting me to Gentile Television. Either that or TiVo is plotting to make me so crazy that I'll eventually lose my mind and wind up doing something totally nuts, like working on my car. Whatever the case, it seems that that I'm doomed to continue this ongoing battle.
And do you know the worst part about my TiVo box? I paid retail for it.
* * * * *
Rob Bloom is a humor writer. He has written for the
Cartoon Network, The
Onion, Cracked Magazine, Fresh Yarn and others. He's
representation, as well as the perfect black and white
cookie. You can read
more of his work, including his humor column, at
from the November 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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