Simply Tim Classic (circa 2001)
Back in the days, it used to be watching television was fun and easy and took little effort. The only brain-work required was when an occasional bouncing ball guided us through a slowly moving string of words while a musical theme song prompted us to sing along with a 100% transparent TV commercial’s message.
“Okay people … Here we go … Let’s all buy … some IVORY SNOW!”
Nowadays, there’s so much happening on screen that I need to record almost everything for playback to make sure I don’t miss anything. Just the other day I was watching the evening news, where I counted three distinct bars of information scrolling by at different speeds near the bottom of the screen. Above that — just underneath the rectangular space that had been begrudgingly set aside for actual news footage — yet ANOTHER caption bar displayed a taped interview that was being translated on-the-fly into English off-camera. All of this while a live human newscaster read from a teleprompter script, rambling on and on about such-and-such or something-or-another happening to somebody with an unpronounceable foreign name. My vision raced to establish a center of equilibrium among all the dancing TV screen clutter; just as my eyes were beginning to learn how to simultaneously conjoin four distinct areas of my brain stem with multiple data stream synaptic feeds, the television image snapped to black and teleported me into a commercial.
Gone in a nanosecond were the three separate levels of right to left scrolling messages. Gone were the caption bars and thickly-accented translation. Gone were the flashing backgrounds, the talking heads; gone the glittering news-desk logo, the twinkling star-filtered studio lights, the upbeat jingle.
Gone. Poof — just like that!
I was instantaneously reassembled, dead center, into a dreamy setting depicting a little girl swimming effortlessly underwater, alongside a majestic humpback whale. Soft music floated in the gentle current. More kids gurgled by in a slow motion aquatic ballet. The humpback’s giant eye moved right up against the television screen and stared at me…
My brain cross-circuited, disconnecting with an explosion something like the sound a gallon bottle of vinegar makes when dropped onto a tile floor. And when I tried to adjust my eyes to the pastorally hypnotic, eco-perfect scene, I darn near fell out of my chair in an attack of left to right vertigo caused by the afterimage of all those previously right to left scrolling lines of text.
“Okay people … Don’t run from it … Grab your TUMS … and pat your STOMACH.”
I’ll take those bouncing balls anytime.