Monday, October 01, 2007

"Where the f*#& is my Big Screen TV?!"

There are three things I have REALLY wanted in my life that I still don’t have. A new car, a gun collection and a big screen TV.

Now, I don’t really go anywhere. I tend to stay at home and play with my kids and watch a lot of TV. So I really don’t need a new car. Sure, it’d be nicer to have more head and leg room and not worry about rust for awhile, but really, I wouldn’t use a new car all that much.

Ten years ago, I married a woman who turned out to hate guns. She isn’t some kooky left-wing gun control advocate. She doesn’t want ME to have any guns. No matter that her dad and brother have several firearms, and no matter that I greatly enjoy shooting, am fairly good at it and carry a gun at work everyday. She just flat doesn’t want me to own my own firearms.

Since I don’t have the time to hunt, and going shooting regularly would cut into my time with the kids, I guess not having a gun collection isn’t so bad. If it weren’t for the fact that my dad was also obsessed with denying me firearms- even a BB Gun- as I was growing up, it probably wouldn’t bother me so much.

So, no guns, and no new car. I can get used to shooting once a year for work and driving used cars the rest of my life.

But I want to know where my f*#&ing Big Screen TV is.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a die-hard couch potato. I live TV. Especially movies. Every saturday night, I have "Daddy’s Movie night" where the wife and kids are just sh*t out of luck and have to watch what I watch, or leave me the hell alone while I watch what I want, without interuption, in the basement.

On my 25 inch, 1994, coax-input Sanyo color TV.

It’s f*#&ing pathetic.

I suppose it’s partly my own fault. When I got engaged, my wife wanted to know what I wanted as an engagement present. I could have said "a nice rifle" or "a big screen TV", but I was trying to be frugal, saving for our future, and told her that was okay, I didn’t need anything.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

After we bought a house and the missus popped out a baby, expenses increased and I didn’t dwell too much on my dream of a big screen. But when my first born turned four and was a full-fledged junior couch potato, I began to think that a big screen TV might not only be something for me, but the whole darn family. So I again began looking wishfully at the displays in the stores and their grand-plus price tags.

Then, in 2004, it looked like my dreams might actually come true. Bestbuy had this awesome father’s day contest.

Basically, it went like this: dads were to write a 100-150 word essay on a moment (about your kids) you wished you had on video. Each store was then to select a winner, who would receive a new cellphone with one year of service. Then, from a pool of all the store winners, a single GRAND PRIZE winner was going to be chosen; and woud receive the greatest friggin’ electronics package ever. PC, Big Screen TV, camcorder, digital camcorder, DVD player, surround sound system, an instore gift car and a regular gift card, total package valued at $25,000.

I knew this had my name all over it. Primarily because it didn’t involve luck, my mortal enemy. All I had to do was out-write the competition. Piece of cake.

So I wrote up my entry- telling the story of how when I was watching the extras on Terminator 3 with my daughter, right when Schwarzenegger says "I’ll be back" my cute little four year old snatches up the remote and says "No you won’t" and turned the DVD player off. Apparently, she’d had enough cyborg ass-whooping action for one day.

Months later, I came home from work one day and found an express mail envelope from Bestbuy on my doorstep. I had won the contest at my local Bestbuy. However, as the contest had gone way past the promised resolution date, they were awarding giftcards instead of the phones. So I ended up with $576 for my troubles.

And the Grand Prize package? Well, somebody from Slidell, Louisiana supposedly won it. Then Hurricane Katrina rolled through Slidell effectively more than likely separating the winner from his prize package. Poor bastard.

So another year rolled around and me still with no f*#&king Big Screen TV. I talked with the wife and we decided it’d make a swell tax refund purchase. Then she had to go and get pregnant again. Argh. No Big Screen for me- it was time to make another bedroom over and start stockpiling diapers.

Last year I stumbled across websites that tell you about DIY TV projecters. Now that would be a BIG screen TV! Alas, my electronics skills are sorely lacking, and my feeble attempt to make my own projector failed miserably. Well, not miserably- it’s not like I electrocuted myself or anything.

Soon after, a friend of mine gave me a projector! He’d been contacted by a school to see if the projector was broken or just needed a replacement bulb. After extensive examination of the unit, he decided that it was just a bad bulb. A three-hundred dollar bad bulb. So the school elected to just buy a new projector. My pal then gave me the projector to see if I could canibalize it for parts, or maybe get a bulb myself.

Knowing full well the old addage about a fool and his money, however, I was a bit reluctant to drop $300 for a bulb on the chance that would get the projector running. After all, it could be damaged as well. So I began surfing eBay, hoping to find a nice used bulb- something that would allow me to test the projector. No luck. The closest I came to getting my 120W UHP bulb was an auction for a refurbished bulb. I won at $40, but that didn’t match the "Reserve price" so I was again out of luck.

Would I never get a Big Screen TV?

At the end of 2006, I was able to land a gig writing freelance articles for a local paper. Not too bad a pay for such easy work: opinion pieces. I scored a nice $250 check for 7 articles. Alas, that bitch Lady Luck showed up, and the paper went under. My first check was my last. Couldn’t buy a Big Screen with $250, but I did manage to get an Xbox 360 for my daughter and I to share.
Of course, it looks like crap on the 25" Sanyo.

Most recently, the nice folks at sponsored a contest, pledging to "Trick out" a home entertainment system. Contestants were to send in photos and a brief plea for why they should be selected. I’m going to have to accept that since Engadget hasn’t called me, I didn’t win that contest either.

So what the hell?! Why can’t I have a big screen TV? I can’t win one. Heck, when I try to save my money for one, it doesn’t work out as some unexpected expense comes along. So here I am, stuck watching movies on a crappy old 25" TV.

I swear, if I ever see a married guy driving around with NRA stickers on the back of his big screen-equipped, new minivan, I might just lose it.