Hyper-intense eye candy


        Way, way more intense than this…

Followers of this blog may or may not have picked up on the fact that I am not a football fan. In fact, it would not be unfair to call me an anti-fan. I mean, I’m glad everyone is such a good mood in Columbia these days because of the Gamecocks’ fortunes (bread and circuses do, indeed, have a practical point), but I’ve also seen them drunk, angry, and up close, so I take these good vibes with a full lick of salt.

But Saturday night, I found myself in a local pub actually watching college football — and being drawn into it. It was less a cultural phenomenon than a neurological one. It was the effect, previously unknown to me, of wide-screen HDTV.

I commented to my wife that someday, when our perpetual state of pecuniary strangulation has subsided somewhat (I’m a perpetual optimist), I’m gonna have me one of them. The idea, for me, is that I’ll then be able to get full the effect from all those DVDs I’ve been collecting in widescreen format (even though I realize they won’t fully use the features of the screen). That’s why I have a TV set, after all — to watch movies on.

And wonder of wonders, she didn’t contradict me! She actually spoke of the thing as though it were a possibility, wondering where it might go in the house. She was thinking along the lines of the same location as my hypothetical pool table. I suggested it would be hard to fully extend a LaZboy with a pool table in the way, but I did it gently, so as not to break the spell.

I think she was, at least to a slight extent, in the grip of the same thing that grapped me — the extreme, deep intensity of those hypersharp colors dancing around on the screen. I actually got, sort of, in a way, caught up in the games on the screen.

Looking at one of the two giant screens, I pointed out that everybody seemed to have on makeup. She said they DID have on makeup. Well, yeah, the sportscasters in the studio had on makeup — I imagined I could see each grain of powder caked onto their base — but even the fans in the stands seemed to have on makeup. I think it was just that every feature on their faces was so ridiculously clear and sharp, that it was as though they were artificially accented.

But then, I looked over at the other screen, and everybody looked just as intensely clear and sharp, but they didn’t seem to have on makeup. They looked explosively natural. I then realized that there was a tiny flaw in the color tuning of the first one, imposing a slight bronzing effect on European skin tones, suggestive of makeup. But it looked so good anyway that if I hadn’t had the other screen to compare it to, I would have said the color was beyond perfect.

Yeah, I know "beyond perfect" is an oxymoron, but what do you say about colors and shapes that impress themselves on your brain in a way that goes beyond colors and shapes as they are commonly understood. It’s like those old detergent commercials from when they first started adding phosphorus or whatever to the powder, and the ads said "whiter than white." These uniforms on these players were redder than red and bluer than blue and turquoiser that turquoise.

At one point, we encountered some folks we knew — friends of one of our daughters. And as my wife was speaking to them and I was looking over her shoulder trying to listen, it hit me that their faces were so dimly lit, so flat in their coloring, that my eyes sort of slid off of them, with little to grab onto.

My senses had become jaded that quickly. We had been there less than an hour, and the intensity of color had already made real people and real life insufficiently stimulating. I was appropriately embarrassed, ashamed and appalled at this realization. Time to leave.

But it occurred to me leaving that if I had one of those things at home, I might not just watch movies on it. I might even watch football. But don’t worry, I won’t let me or mine get corrupted or anything. I’ll get my men to stick beeswax into their ears and tie me to the mast before hitting the "power" button.


        … and way bluer than this.

5 thoughts on “Hyper-intense eye candy

  1. bud

    Brad, I can’t really explain it and it is so irrational and a complete waste of time but I have a deep, irresistable passion for college football. I won’t even try to defend it. Indeed the fans can be quite obnoxious. Unless you have that passion you will never understand. (The NFL just doesn’t have the same alure for me). The pagentry and excitement of it is so addictive. The cheerleaders. The band. The mascots. And above all the action on the field. And if you go to the game you have the added bonus of the the smell of boiled peanuts, the noise and the masses of people. It’s the next best thing to heaven. If I had a wide-screen HDTV I would never get anything done during the fall on a Saturday.

  2. weldon VII

    Gosh, Bud. We have something in common. I wouldn’t give you a dead skin cell for the NFL, but nothing beats college football as a spectator sport. From September through January, I live it, breathe it, swim in it.
    And nothing, absolutely nothing, has more allure than the Clemson-Carolina game. Every year it’s a game for the ages, no matter the winner, no matter the margin. And every year, everything that happens the day the game is played — sometimes even the entire week the game is played — seems hyper-real, like Christmas to a child, like HD to Brad.
    Heck, in my world, Christmas is small potatoes compared to the Clemson-Carolina game.
    Maybe that’s why I think us-them is a good thing, not something we need to overcome.
    The Clemson-Carolina thing, after all, is pure religion, and it involves one of Christianity’s basic tenets, redemption.
    Every year, each team has the chance to save not only itself, but its entire fan base, by winning THE game.
    THE game is a universe unto itself, Judgment Day.
    And even now, I feel it coming.

  3. bud

    Weldon, don’t you feel as though people like Brad are missing out on something indescribably fantastic? There is one area that the State papers gets right. They rank every Carolina-Clemson game ever played. The 1977 game was first, the 1984 game second. I will never forget those 2 games, one a Clemson win, the other went to Carolina. Then there was the tie game, 1986. I was in Death Valley that day and boy, what a wierd feeling. I’m sure glad they eliminated the tie.

  4. Herb Brasher

    Amazing how college football can unite souls on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Perhaps even the religious one? Or maybe it is a religion to itself?
    Anyway, I agree with Bud. If I had a wide-screen HDTV, I wouldn’t get anything done on Saturday, which is why I also don’t have cable TV, otherwise Thursday eve., Friday eve., and probably some more evenings would be regularly squandered.
    I’m a big 12 fan–sorry to you SEC folks out there, but hey, I’m gradually getting accustomed to the South. I think I’m becoming a Gamecock fan, at least I’m trying to. After all, we helped put one daughter through USC (the real USC, here in Columbia). But in my heart of hearts, I’ll always be a Texas Tech fan, growing up in Lubbock, and forever hoping, that once, just this once, we’d clobber the Longhorns. I never lived to see it happen, but I heard rumors, once I lived in Europe, that it had occurred (think pre-Internet days, please–and I didn’t get Armed Forces Radio, either). Then, South Carolina stole our coach (Jim Carlen).
    Not until recently was I able to indulge my passion again, but alas, I like Bud, have to keep it in bounds. And I watched part of the UNC-USC game (all the while wishing it was Tech vs. A&M) with my 7 year old grandson, who, much to the consternation of his NC fan father, insists that he is for USC. Afterwards, we played “sports-day” int he back yard, but he insisted on being the USC side. I had to pretend I was a Tar Heel.
    Hey Brad, try to understand us kids growing up in some provincial places, where the only exciting thing in life was Friday night lights (the real thing, not the TV soap opera), and the hope of maybe getting into a college game (couldn’t afford a ticket, and I once got caught trying to sneak in for free), and the even deeper hope that maybe, just maybe, your team would win for a change?

  5. Herb Brasher

    Oh, and Weldon, I just re-read your post. Religion of course. Idolatry, I suppose, but even Solomon couldn’t get rid of the high places in Israel (were they TV antenna stations?).
    Yeah, like I said, I can get into Carolina-Clemson now, though it won’t lift my soul up near as much as the fact that Tech plastered A&M last Saturday.
    Oh well, enough of this worldliness. Let us go back to solving the world’s problems by discussing politics and bashing one another.

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