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It is sometimes said the Academy Awards is the "Super Bowl" of the movie industry. Personally, I claim no deep devotion to either. My own, shockingly sub-stellar football career ended after only a scant two seasons on the junior high team. A series of painfully long days on the bench had left me without feeling in both my right and left butt cheeks. I took this as sign and never looked back. My wife and kids never gave two whits about the sport, either. And as far as the Oscars go, I could similarly take or leave them. My wife and I differ on this view to the extent that I could be strapped to a rocket ready to head for the moon and if the moment of launch happened at the same instant Meryl Streep walked onto the Red Carpet Kristin would miss my ride entirely.
We do find a bit of common ground in that we'll tune into the spectacle of the Super Bowl's Halftime Show just to marvel over the extent to which the football world will go just to get non-football people to tune in for 15 minutes. It works on us every time.
This year the Academy Awards felt like the Super Bowl for an entirely different reason -- each event left us feeling like a pair of numbskulls in front of our own TV because we couldn't figure out how to work the doggone thing!
Now, it's not that we are both complete imbeciles. We used to know how to work a television: Hit the "on" switch, select a channel and pass the popcorn. But that was back in the days of the "Dumb TV." The monstrosity that sits in our living room these days is a new, state-of-the-art "Smart TV" given to us as a Christmas gift from our oldest daughter and her husband. What Charlotte and Andrew couldn't have known is that sometimes what comes naturally to a child born in the Digital Age is almost torturously impossible for a pair of 50-year-old adults to master.
Kristin and I had tried desperately to pull up the Super Bowl as the minutes ticked down in the second quarter. Finally, in an act of full surrender we had simply rushed to Kristin's computer in the next room, Googled "Watch the Super Bowl" and watched Lady Gaga and friends on the tiny screen. After that we largely forgot about the giant TV in the next room until Academy Awards night when I returned from the store to find Kristin in a full-blown meltdown in front of a blank screen.
"I have Charlotte and Andrew on the phone trying to help me figure this thing out," she cried. "I'm going to miss it all! Arrggggghhhh!"
I could hear the kids on the other end of the phone alternately laughing and beating their heads against the wall as they tried to educate Kristin on the most basic nuances of Smart TV operation. The lesson was proving increasingly futile. Hoping to spare the young couple their sanity, I suggested that Kristin hang up and call our cable TV provider. After my suggestion was pooh-pooed again and again for a full 15 minutes I dialed the number on my own phone and handed it to her. Within minutes the kind lady on the other end of the line had talked Kristin off the ledge and she was happily perched upon the couch pawing at the popcorn and watching Hollywood's own Super Bowl.