September 2, 2012 in Features

The Slice: Today’s kids aren’t as receptive

By The Spokesman-Review

Kids today have it so easy.

When there’s something wrong with the television picture, there are diagnostic options available on the remote. Or you can call the cable company. Or press buttons on the front of the TV.

Back in the day, we had it rough. Let me tell you. Adjusting the picture required the skills of a contortionist.

As the control knobs were often on the back of the boxy set, you had to reach around to make delicate calibrations while trying to crane your head to see the picture up front. It wasn’t easy. But it built character.

Lots of families tried making it a two-person operation. That is, one sibling would monkey with the controls at the back of the set while another knelt in front and shouted progress reports and issued commands.

“The horizontal is still out of whack. That’s got it. Nope. Too much. Too much! Aiiiiieeee! There. That’s good. Aw, fudge. Now the vertical is messed up. Other way. Other way! That’s better. No, no, no — too much. OK, that’s better. Hold it there. Auggggghhhhh! Now everything is snow.”

Teamwork, of course, was not always successful. As I have noted before, the manipulation of the controls required a safecracker’s touch. And the person whose fingertips were doing this fine work needed instant feedback. There was no margin for even a split-second delay.

Sometimes the viewer was on his own and the set was simply too big for simultaneous adjusting and monitoring. In such cases, the intrepid youth attempting to rectify the picture had to do a sort of hopping dance, lurching from back to the front in such a way as to suggest demonic possession.

Sports superstition: Carol Siegenthaler said she crosses her fingers when the Mariners are ahead late in a game that Felix Hernandez is pitching. “Works most of the time,” she wrote.

Something tells me that is not necessarily a result of mystical forces. But you never know about these things.

Question from a reader who enjoys “Gunsmoke” reruns: “Who watches over Dodge City when Matt and Festus take off?” asked Jeff Neuberger. “Kitty? Doc?”

If you have a theory, feel free to share.

Today’s Slice question: What would people notice right away if you went rogue?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Today’s retro band name inspired by the police/fire/EMT scanner: General Sickness.

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