Coach Potato II

Awhile back, I posted an entry about watching TV on a JetBlue flight. Now, after flying JetBlue a few days ago, I'm writing a second entry about watching TV on a plane. You'd think one would have been enough. And yet, here we are.

I really had intended to read on this one. I had a book I was excited about, and this was a rare flight where there was no need to sleep (most of the time I'm either on a red-eye, or I'm coming off a short night because the flight's mad early). Yes, I had it all figured out-- I'd read like 300 pages during the 6.5 hours and finish the book.

And of course, I read nothing. Not one word. I spent 6.5 hours with my book on my lap, trying to stop watching TV. I would say I'm weak, but I don't even think that's it-- I think it's that TV is ridiculously strong. I really had no choice. From the moment I sat down in that seat, it was completely out of my control. And it's not just me-- I went to the bathroom mid-flight, and noticed that 90% of people were completely glued to the seat back.

It's funny-- in the new world of Tivo, I almost never just turn on the TV to "see what's on" and find myself flipping around. Other than a few specific live events (sports, mainly), everything I watch is recorded. In the end, I watch a lot less TV because of Tivo (not to mention that the shows I do watch take up 2/3 of the normal time because of the absence of commercials).

And so, I had forgotten how addictive TV can be. Especially those channels. You know which ones I'm talking about. There is a string of channels in JetBlue's murderous lineup which are absolutely impossible to pass through without becoming addicted to something. I call it Death Row:

-The Discovery Channel
-The History Channel
-The Science Channel
-The Food Channel
-Animal Planet

Now, just say I somehow make it past Death Row without becoming hooked-- I then find myself venturing through the gladiator pit of the pop culture channels (MTV, VH1, and E!), the sports channels (especially ESPN Classic's SportsCentury), the funny channels (Comedy Central, the Cartoon Network, and some channel called Boom), the crappy channels (Bravo, FX, and USA), the networks (which become deadly during primetime), the movie channels, and whatever channel "To Catch a Predator" is on.

And so, my book sat quietly on my lap for 6.5 hours. You can also see why I'm not really blaming myself here-- it was clearly out of my control. TV is absurdly strong.

And there were stressful moments. The worst happen when I'm badly addicted to something, say, an Animal Planet show on scorpions, and during commercial I start flipping, pass some tantalizing episode of Loony Toons, and end up on something positively delicious, like the Back to the Future marathon on Sci-Fi. The result is a complete panic. There is no way I can flip away from Marty McFly on his skateboard being chased around by Biff's gang, but I am deeply immersed in watching scorpions being trapped in spider webs. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm pretty upset that I'm not watching Loony Toons (I love Loony Toons. Bugs Bunny especially. He has the personality of a naughty, 75-year-old man from the 1930's, except he's a rabbit, and instead of holding a cigar he has a carrot. Who wouldn't like that? In fact, any cartoon created for audiences 12 and younger tends to be a hit with me. Although I saw a bit of a Popeye episode on the flight, and I'm not sure I understand the appeal here. Popeye is a filthy, homeless man. He's supposedly the eternal underdog, but he's like 2,486-0 against that big guy, so he can't really be called an underdog, can he? And Olive Oil is not attractive. She's like a 4. And why spinach-- what a random thing to give him muscles).

Anyway, while we're here, some further comments on airplanes:

-There's no good solution to the "I have to go to the bathroom, but the person in the aisle seat is sleeping" problem. Sure, you could give me a number of solutions-- but they're all bad.

-The moment when I find out who I'm sitting next to is a big one for me. But it makes no sense-- I'm not going to have any interaction with them whatsoever. Yet, it's a big moment.

-At any given point 80% of the people on the plane are sleeping. I don't really get it. It's daytime.

-Sometimes, when I go to the bathroom, I grab a peanuts from the stewardess room on the way back. This is always an awkward moment, because the stewardess sees it happen, and she's not happy. She knows it's legal, I know it's legal-- but she's not happy.

-I have an unbelievably hard time picking a drink. I can do it in restaurants just fine, but not on planes. I always have a drink in mind, and then at the last second I change it to something else, and then immediately regret my decision. Then, the person next to me invariably orders a better drink, and I become extremely jealous, and fall deeper into regret. (Asking the stewardess for two drinks is the same "legal yet awkward" phenomenon as the bathroom trip peanuts, except much worse. I rarely go for it, although it would help alleviate my intense regret.)

-It's odd to me that the window seat isn't by far the most desirable one. Are people that jaded that they don't have any interest in looking out the window when they're flying 30,000 above the ground? I stare out the window during takeoff and landing-- riveted-- like a 7-year-old.

-A stewardess has a weird job. She wakes up in her apartment in Boston, has lunch in New Mexico, and then has dinner with her husband back in Boston.

-The hardest part of a flight for me is when I gather the courage to recline. I'm always very nervous, and sometimes I'll move it back incredibly slowly, with the hopes that the person behind me won't notice. I didn't use to have this fear, but one time on the way to Japan a little Japanese woman became furious and pushed my seat back forward after I reclined, and I've been self-conscious when reclining ever since.
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On a ridiculously unrelated note (so unrelated as to warrant the rare separation line), I want to mention something that's bothering me. ESPN.com posts polls every day, and after you vote, a map of the country pops up, showing the breakdown of opinion in each individual state. It's pretty interesting to look at. Anyway, the current poll asks whether the BCS got it "right" in selecting Florida to play in the national championship game (I, like many others, always root for whatever will produce the most controversy, in hopes of forcing the BCS to change to a playoff format). So the map pops up-- the entire Midwest voted "no" (they wanted Michigan to make it instead), and the entire southeast voted that yes, the BCS had gotten it right. In other words, the Big Ten wanted Michigan to make it, and the SEC wanted Florida to make it.

So why does this bother me? Because if I were a college football fan, I'd hate every team in my conference so much that I'd root intensely hard against them in any bid for national glory. Yet after loathing Michigan and Florida all season, their respective conferences have suddenly pulled 180's and now loudly champion their rival's cause. How can intra-conference hatred and inter-conference pride coexist? Isn't this an awkward clash? And this phenomenon is not limited to college football either-- it happens in every sport (baseball fans love rooting for "their league" in the World Series). Not me. I'm a bitter, spiteful sports fan, and when my team goes down the drain I root for all their rivals to lose miserably and suffer, regardless of their league or conference.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

This whole post was extremely funny. I need to fly JetBlue more often.

Anonymous said...

they are called flight attendants tim

Will said...

A similar phenomenon exists in college basketball, but in that sport it makes sense. In college basketball, since so much of making the NCAA tournament is determined on RPI and prestige of your conference, if you're say, a small outfit from Wichita Kansas who is currently enjoying their greatest season of all-time and have beat George Mason, LSU and Syracuse on the road, you root for other Missouri Valley teams both during the regular season (to boost your RPI) and during the tournament (to make your conference look good and to tell all those Billy Packer mo fos to shove it). Thought you'd like to know.

Will

Claire said...

For the record, after playing a sport at Duke, I always rooted for UNC when rooting for myself was not an option. Similarly, I fucking hated UVA and Maryland, but would root for them over Princeton. The exception was during basketball season when I covertly rooted for UNC all the time because Duke's team was so goddamn annoying.

Claire said...

To add, I think the intra-conference love/hate feelings come from feeling like your team is competing against the best and worthiest opponents. Rooting for your conference rival is a way of proclaiming the dominance of your conference over other measlier conferences and letting everyone know just how hard your team has it, being in such an brutally talented conference. And, being a part of said conference makes your team part of that dominance, even if your team is not competing.

Tim Urban said...

I realize that this is the reason for the conference pride (it proves how tough it is being in that conference). My thing is that it must be awkward, since then you're watching the championship and rooting for the team, and the players, that you so loathe. If I were a big college fan, this conflicting hatred would freak me out.

Claire said...

hmm...it is possible that your hatred is much more intense than mine.

Anonymous said...

i don't know when this became a sports chat, but i'm sorry, your call of popeye being an old homeless man is unbelievably hilarious and the clear highlight of that entire (high quality) post

morgan said...

youre the only person i know who would consider ordering two drinks at once.

i liked claire's use of "measlier". well played.

Anonymous said...

the reason spinach gave popeye muscles was to get kids to eat their spinach. (pretty lame, huh?)

Momcani said...

One of those southern teams is always in the mix. It does present a moral conflict. That's when you watch the game and are happy no matter who wins or loses.

Gladiator pit of pop culture after Death row? How can you flip away from the scorpion to begin with?

Andrew Finn said...

Its cause of regional pride. Its the same reason that as much as you'd root against players on other teams, you would still root for them if they were playing for America. The BCS is ridiculous. Every year the same shit happens. Is a 4 team playoff that hard to do? Would anyone actually be upset about this? Its similarly stupid to about half the rules in soccer. Some guys is grabbing his ankle 20m from play, we should probably stop. Fing ridiculous.

Also, I'm the guy who gets furious when people recline. I will allow if it I have an aisle seat, but if by some awful stroke of bad luck I got stuck in the middle of by the window you can bet your ass no 5'9" dandy like you is gonna lean back in his seat.

Tim Urban said...

I'm 5'10" and 7/8 you bastard.

Anonymous said...

Finn's such a wanker

Anonymous said...

"the reason spinach gave popeye muscles was to get kids to eat their spinach. "

actually the real reason is that spinach has a lot of iron, which is really great i guess for building muscle. UNFORTUNATELY the year popeye was created the FDA had a misprint (the decimal moved over one spot) in the amount of iron in spinach and there was this huge craze that there was insane amounts of iron in spinach. hence popeye eats spinach and has lots of iron in his system and hence has big muscles.

Surya said...

I'm going to call you out Tim:

"-The moment when I find out who I'm sitting next to is a big one for me. But it makes no sense-- I'm not going to have any interaction with them whatsoever. Yet, it's a big moment."

It makes a ton of sense. From a physical standpoint-- not mental. If you're getting crushed by the larger gentleman sitting next to you-- you obviously have a vested interest. And also from a physical sense, even for young men in a relationship like you, all guys still hope for the amazingly attractive young woman to sit next to them. And so we have our big moment of truth.

lindsay said...

i always talk to the person next to me on the plane.

:)