Did you win a TiVo? Post your winning essay here to compare and contrast. September 26, 2000 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Did you win a TiVo? Post your winning essay here to compare and contrast.
posted by mathowie (staff) to General Weblog-Related at 9:23 AM (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This is my actual, edited down, 250 word essay which won me a TiVo:

I come home from work and instead of mail, there’s a girl waiting for me on the porch.

Hello, I say.

“Oh my God,” she says, “This really is your house! You really are Ben Brown, world famous writer!”

Yes, I suppose I am.

This girl on my porch, she’s different -- not like the other fans. I invite her into my estate. Before long, we’ve stripped down, and one of us is being used as a tool for the other’s base pleasures, though it’s unclear who is using who. A single tear falls from my eye, leaves a trail down my cheek, and as my lover reaches up to wipe it away, drops onto the button of my remote control.

“Ben, is this an amazing TiVo television? That lets you pause live television and will record shows that it thinks you will want to watch? My god, you are a master of popular culture and a true connoisseur of fine things!”

Sometimes, I say, you can’t keep up as technology whirs by you! Baby, you know I love you, and tomorrow, I will buy a TiVo so that we can bask in the glory of digitally captured and categorized programs! And one for your poor, diseased mother!

“It’s too late!” she screams as she collects her clothing. “I thought you were a king, but you are merely a pauper! I’m leaving.”

It would appear that the only true way to the heart of a groupie is TV her way.

posted by benbrown at 9:55 AM on September 26, 2000 [1 favorite]

Warning: Intense self-esteem fluctuations:

Contest open to amateur writers only. Professional writers (persons who have been paid for their writing ability and/or performance in the past one year) are not eligible. I hope that doesn't include payment for epinions or I'll have to give it back. Actually, I just had an itsy-bitsy comic idea accepted by Modern Humorist about a week ago, but they have't sent me my micropayment yet, and otherwise, I haven't been paid by anybody for being witty and clever since the First Bush Administration. (But then, as anyone who's read my postings here knows, I haven't been witty or clever since the First Bush Administration...)

Anyway, since my own site seems to be going deeper into a coma and mathowie actually ASKED for it, here's my winning entry, but please be warned: I put my past experience writing radio commercials to use in the following piece of self-proclaimed drivel (I used to have a bright future as an advertising hack), and it is totally a work of fiction and does not represent my lifestyle in any way. Honest. Really!

They Don't Know
by Wendell Wittler
TV networks and Hollywood producers do all kinds of marketing research to get to know their audience... but they don't know me.
They don't know how often it took me several weeks to find the new time slot of a favorite show.
They don't know that they've scheduled my favorite cop show opposite my favorite comedy.
They don't know that I can only laugh at the late night monologues while I'm eating breakfast.
They don't know that I am ALWAYS in the bathroom when the Morning News gives the local weather.
They don't know that sometimes I need Alex Trebek to repeat the question.
They don't know that my dear old mother always calls me during the last 10 minutes of "ER" an wants to talk about "Oprah", even though she knows I'm at work when it's on.
No, they don't know about me. And as long as TiVo can find and record my favorite shows, and lets me pause and replay live TV, they don't have to know about me.
Which is good... I really wouldn't want them to know about the bathroom and the Morning News... You know?
posted by wendell at 9:56 AM on September 26, 2000 [1 favorite]

jason kottke's is over here
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:58 AM on September 26, 2000

Here's mine. It's pretty lame especially the last line. The 500-word first draft was much better. I even included the ranks of the characters. Alas. If you're crazy enough to want to read the long version, let me know.


Stardate 2345.8.24

"The Molybdenak vessel is approaching! Our shields are useless against their weapons! Orders, sir?" cried Helmsman Cabel. Captain Oldtek concentrated. This situation felt familiar...

He'd seen this situation on a GSU training program! He always taped those shows. "Dizzle! M'dom! Go to my quarters and retrieve the videotape with the GSU program on Molybdenak warships. Immediately!"

Soon, Dizzle reported back. "Sir, we cannot locate the tape! None of your videotapes are labeled! This could have been avoided using TiVo technology."


"Yes, sir. TiVo's Now Playing feature saves time by allowing instant access to a particular program. With TiVo you can fast-forward and rewind, at speeds up to 60x, to locate a particular segment quickly."

M'dom burst onto the bridge. "Captain, I located the right tape, but the program was not recorded. The network changed schedule! Now we just have repeats of Seinfeld! TiVo technology would have provided for this. Season Pass automatically records the shows you choose whenever they air, even if the schedule changes!"

"So TiVo technology would have saved us, but now what do we do?"

The helmsman cried, "The Molybdenaks are about to fire!"

Dizzle said, "TiVo's TrickPlay feature would be exceptionally useful at this moment. You can pause live-action for up to 30 minutes, enough time to come up with a plan. You could also use Instant Replay to figure out what went wrong!"

"Too late!"

And so another tale of woe for those who do not use TiVo.

posted by daveadams at 10:19 AM on September 26, 2000

Here's mine, for what it's worth (judging by ebay, I'm guessin' that'd be about 200 bucks). If I sell this TiVo thingie, I can finally call myself a professional writer. Imaging, joining the esteemed ranks of Hemmingway, Rimbaud, and Burroughs on the simple strength of 250 words. I'm giddy like a schoolgirl.
There have been only two useful inventions in the history of the world. Television is one of them. The other one is TiVo. I own one, but not the other, and, as such, my existence is an unbalanced one. Sure, I still have my television, but I sense that my poor TV has become lonely, and needful of a helpmate. The burden of filling my brain with disjointed images of happiness through consumer excess is a heavy one to bear alone, though my little TV does his level best.
I know that, if I had a TiVo, my faithful television could rest easy, his load lightened, his journey joined by a fellow traveler. And I could sit happily in my living room, watching my new friend, Tivo, play with my old friend, TV. TiVo is a sharp cookie, so TiVo would know what kind of programs I like to watch. TiVo could help TV remember about programs that were simply too wonderful to miss. I could return home from work, and they would greet me, thrilled to give me this gift of commercial-free bliss. And if they saw me laugh especially loudly at a joke, my friend TiVo could help me watch that joke over and over again, each time laughing harder than the last.
We would be like a little family: Television, TiVo, and me. Together, we could enjoy hour upon hour of pixilated happiness, and life would be complete.

posted by Optamystic at 10:21 AM on September 26, 2000

This is pathetic. It took a full 1 hour to find out that I won.

For what it's worth, here's my essay:

For years it's been a badge of honor to be able to utter this brief five word phrase:

"I don't have a television."

This bit of information I would easily offer when asked about a certain "landmark" television program, or local ambulance invoking news event, or never-before-seen sporting phenomena.

"I didn't see it."

I have the means for purchasing a television; I cannot plead poverty. Sometimes I would go to the houses of trusted friends (those who know and nurture my television viewing habits) for the occasional baseball game or "must-see" show. I have also had the time to sort through the stacks and piles of magazines and newspaper clippings that have accumulated in my humble abode, so certainly I have had the time and desire to get an "idiot box".

And therein lies the reason for not being a member of the T.V. community; I have no inclination to sort through the flotsam and jetsam that litters the airwaves.

Until now?

Could a small black box allow me to watch what I want to watch, without the encumbrances that are involved with scheduled programming? Oh, to see the Farm Report at night! The Late Show early! Yesterday's weather today! No more must I label a spare video tape for those one-shot-only viewings (I can throw away the tapes with five-year-old Cheers episodes without fear that I-may-need-that-spare-tape-one-day.)

I can join the real world again, but as an active, informed participant!

Thank you TiVo!

Now, I need to get a television...
posted by Avogadro at 10:39 AM on September 26, 2000

Here's mine. I didn't even bother to polish or spend more than the alotted five minutes -- plus, I was doing ten other things at work at the same time -- so, yes, I realize not everything is 5-7-5. And, yes, I realize the last line is pretty uninspired. And, yes, I realize haiku-as-comedy is so, so 1995.

(And, yes, I realize "x is so 199_" is so .... nevermind.)

I work crummy hours
From four o'clock to midnight
No prime time for me

Oh, to own TiVo
No muss, fuss or VCR
Prime time waits for me

On Homer! On Bart!
On Morley, Leslie, Andy!
I'll watch you later!

And when my loved Cubs
Are playing on WGN
I can freeze each gaffe

"Freeze each gaffe and error?
But you're watching live TV!"
No prob, with TiVo!

Oh how grand 'twould be
'Twere TiVo on my TV
No more frowns for me!

posted by luke at 10:39 AM on September 26, 2000

Here is my entry, no word if I won yet:

“That is my final answer Regis.”

With those words I ended my brief quest to win $1,000,000. I had studied for months preparing for my seat on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I had used the latest high tech ‘Fast Finger’ training exercises to leap past all the other contestants to sit there, facing Regis.

I would have won too, but I didn't know enough TV trivia. Lets face it, who can watch everything on prime time?

“You can.”

Regis startled me, “What did you say?”

“You can watch everything in prime time. All you need is a couple of TiVo’s.”

“What is a TiVo?” and how did Regis know what I was thinking?

“TiVo is a high tech personal TV service. It gives you control to schedule TV around your needs.” Regis said. “You can pause, rewind and even instant replay anything on your TV.”

“That’s Incredible” I exclaim, wondering if we were on a commercial break.

“Sure, but there’s more. TiVo has some incredible exclusive features. Like Network Showcases and TiVolution Magazine. They keep you informed on what to watch. TiVo Takes gives you access to original short films from TiVo and ifilm.com. Plus you also get access to the TiVomatic Previews, Season Pass, TrickPlay and Now Playing features.”

“Gosh Regis, sounds like if I had a TiVo, I could be a millionaire right now!”

“That’s right. Now, are you interested in Kathy Lee’s spot on my other show?”
posted by DragonBoy at 10:48 AM on September 26, 2000

I won! I won!

I wrote a clichéd pathetic geek story. Nothing original, minor humor, and an unabashed loading of proprietary terms. It worked--I got a response in less than 30 minutes.

Here it is:

I'm at my girlfriend's place. She just broke up with me. Well, she didn't actually break up with me, just said we needed to take a break, you know, spend some time apart. So I bundle up all the stuff I had over there, my extra razor, you know, a bottle of vitamins, my bicycle pump, go home. I get home, strip down to my boxers, go to the kitchen. I take out my pot, the one without a handle, open a can of baked beans, heat them up, then take the whole pot over to the couch. Nothing on TV, so I pop in a tape.

Nothing but static. Oh, I hear the sound track, a wonderful tease, but I get no picture.

If only I had TiVo! I wouldn't be a pathetic middle-aged geek with a broken VCR. I'd be a pathetic middle-aged geek with a TiVo, and the ability to access TrickPlay, Now Playing, Instant Replay, Season Pass, TiVo Central, TiVolution Magazine, Network Showcases, and, especially, TiVo's Suggestions.

I think the chicks would dig that.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:25 AM on September 26, 2000

Here's posted by asellke at 12:36 PM on September 26, 2000 [1 favorite]

What I sent in, (condensed version): "I'm a consultant I work 60-70 hours a week, I drive 15-20 hours a week. I almost never watch T.V. during prime time. When I do, it's usually so bad, that I give up and switch it off. I never tape anything with my VCR, mostly because I wouldn't know what or when to tape. With TiVo, I could record large, general areas of movies, shows, documentaries, etc... when I finally do find something I like, I could search and record..." Bla, bla I won't bore you with the whole essay.

(what I should have sent in): "I would like to pay the first months service, cancel the service, then promptly break the thing open and snarf the hard drive."
posted by Dean_Paxton at 12:37 PM on September 26, 2000

No shit! Standard IDE drive. 14 hours of digital video has got to be a pretty decent size..
posted by benbrown at 12:50 PM on September 26, 2000

The dream is always the same.

I'm sitting in traffic, cars bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see, and the voice on the radio is telling me that the cliffhanger resolution episode of my favorite show tonight was so outlandish, so over the top, that it will never again be broadcast. I'm happy because I always tape my favorite show, but when the voice on the radio says "I hope you didn't forget to set your VCRs this morning" I realize that I DID forget. I've managed to remember for every episode since the show began, but today I forgot. If only I had gotten a TiVo, I could have set my favorite show up for season pass recording. The voice on the radio is back and it's telling me that If I had gotten a TiVo, I could have used Trick Play to pause the opening ceremony for the Olympics, and my mom wouldn't be mad at me for hanging up the phone on her. Not only that, says the increasingly smug voice, but with the ability to record your favorite show while watching your wife's favorite show, you would still be married. I can see the people in the next car laughing at me. Their license plate reads "TIVO 4 EVR."

I wake up in a cold sweat, alone in my TiVo-less apartment. I am awake, but the nightmare continues. I know that without my own personal TV network, I can never be truly happy.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:03 PM on September 26, 2000

Okay, I won and this is as uncreative and blah as I can imagine (it's embarrassing) , but in the interest of sharing, here's mine:

Why I need a free Personal Video Recorder from Tivo:

I am an Internet professional working for a start-up, and along with that, working start-up hours (50-60 hours per week). I also have a new baby at home - our first. So in the past several months, my free time at home has dwindled from several hours a day and long weekends to almost nothing. If I get a moment to sit and watch television, I just have to pray that something worthwhile is on... which of course is rare (even with DirecTV). If I could have worthwile viewing waiting for me to press a button at my convenience (as it seems TiVo would do), that would be fantastic.

Also, there are certain shows I like that are only broadcast at 2 am, and others at 5 pm - I never get to see those now unless I work at setting up my VCR. The ability to have TiVo do this automatically for me is excellent. If my wife and I can be happy in our TV viewing, my baby can be happier, my life can be happier, my stress will decrease, and hopefully I'll live longer. All thanks to Tivo.

posted by kokogiak at 1:16 PM on September 26, 2000

Why Owning a TiVo Would Greatly Improve My Life (Or My TV Viewing, Anyway, Which is, After All, Pretty Much My Life)

With TiVo, no show would I miss when
I head off to the toilet or kitchen.
I could pause live TV
(A great feature for me!)
And resume when I've finished my mission.

Stuck in traffic, here's my lamentation:
I'm missing some cool animation!
"The Simpsons" are on
But my VCR is set wrong.
I'll bet TiVo could find the right station!

"What to watch?" is a constant self-query,
As I channel-surf 'til I am weary.
But TiVo could suggest
A show I myself might request
Matching my interests, and leaving me cheery.

posted by bradlands at 1:17 PM on September 26, 2000

Sung to the tune of Britney Spears' "Oops!...I Did It Again"

Lyrics: Oops! ..I did it again
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
I think I did it again
I forgot to tape today's TRL

Oh baby
It might be no big deal
But if I had a TiVo I'd be all set
'Cause to tape all my fave shows
That would be such excellency
Oh baby, baby
Oops!...I need a TiVo
I forgot to tape, I hate video
Oh baby, baby
Oops!...With a TiVo box
As if sent from above
I'd never miss a show!

You see my problem is this
I'm dreaming away
Missing all the parts, that I want to see
I cry, watching reruns
Can't you see with TiVo my problems are solved

But to have TiVo with my TeeVee
That would just be the greatest thing
Baby, oh


Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
"No more tape"

posted by werty at 1:19 PM on September 26, 2000

Oh alright. Here ya go. Remember what I told you, it stays crunchy even in milk.....


Yeah, it’s the year two thousand, and Avery Brooks and I STILL don’t have the flying carsthat were promised to us, but we’ve finally gotten Future Television thanks to TiVo!

TiVo’s cool features like TrickPlay and Suggestions and Now Playing and Season Pass are great. Suggestions is especially nice, since my neighbor always steals my TVGuide. Season Pass and Now Playing will help save the Earth since I’d use less gasoline driving to my grandmother’s house. She messes up her VCR at least once a week, and with TiVo, I can record all of her shows for her.

I can’t wait for everyone to have their very own TiVo. I remember when “Seinfeld” was on; unless your house was buring down, it was a severe test of friendship to call anyone between 8:00 and 8:30 pm on Thursdays. People would try to make very quick calls during commercials. There are still shows like that. TiVo and TrickPlay will make people better friends. With TiVo, people won’t need Caller ID as much as they did before they had TiVO’s TrickPlay technology.

Network Showcases and TiVoLution Magazine will also help the environment. Americans will quit TVGuide, and they will quit their Sunday paper, because TiVo tells them what’s on television. Think of all the trees that will be saved thanks to TiVo!

TiVo and its magical features will finally empower television viewers and make them into television “users” – taking control of their televisions and their lives. Thank you, TiVo!

posted by mimi at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2000

This is my co-workers non-winning entry-
I really wish that I could get one of those fine TiVo units because TiVo is the most advanced and easy-to-use personal television service available. It's a way for you to have total control over what you watch, and when you watch it.

And because The TiVo Service works by automatically making a brief daily phone call (toll-free, of course) to get the up-to-date information TiVo needs to provide your service. Not only that, TiVo sends you feature enhancements as soon as they become available - through the same phone connection to your personal video recorder. And while TiVo uses your existing phone line, it will never interrupt you while you're using the phone.

And because of the Great Recorder Specifications

Compression: Supports MPEG II - MP/ML for high quality digital television
Advanced Processor: High performance Power PC running Linux
Storage: 14 or 30 hours depending on configuration
Inputs: Cable-Ready Tuner, S-Video and Composite Video support all US standards
Outputs: RF, S-Video and two composite video outputs
Remote Control: 30 button remote, programmable for TV/AV control
Channel Control: Channel and power control of cable and satellite boxes with serial or IR
Telephone: RJ-11 connection to telephone line
Dimensions: 17 1/8" Width x 12 5/8" Depth x 4 1/8" Height
Compatible with all Cable, Satellite (DBS), and Terrestrial Broadcast TV systems in the U.S.
Latest encryption technology protects viewer privacy

Oh boy do I want one!

posted by TuxHeDoh at 2:00 PM on September 26, 2000

This is my dual-Tivo-winning essay-
I submitted it from two different email addresses- and won from both.

After a days work supporting ungrateful customers, I go to the homeless shelter, where I serve soup and blankets to the starving and cold. Some nights the stream of people is so long that when I get home I have already missed the Simpsons which airs at 11pm. Other shows that I’ve probably missed include Howard Stern, and the Cindy Margolis Show.

Without this late night smut to fuel the fantasies that young men have, my life seems to be washed up. Women don’t want me, I don’t want people, my dog doesn’t bark when I come home. I believe a Tivo would change most of this. If I had a TiVo I could bring a lady home from the homeless shelter, and share with her the beauty of Cindy, I could share with her the harassment of Howard. I could possibly even score, but I wouldn’t hold the folks at TiVo responsible if I didn’t. Maybe she doesn’t like to watch barely dressed women bouncing around with other women. Maybe she doesn’t enjoy watching Howard pick apart women who bare their breasts. But, of course she would enjoy Homer, drinking his Duff, ignoring his children, and drooling over donuts. What woman wouldn’t.

And once she became aroused during viewing the Simpsons, I could just pause, and take care of business. After the heat of passion has died, and she’s satisfied, and I’m lying there thinking about Cindy, we could continue watching that dysfunctional family, we’ve all grown to love.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 2:00 PM on September 26, 2000

This is another co-workers entry- but it won.

I am really excited about the GREAT TiVo! I have been unable to watch my favorite program, Big Brother, each night because of my daughter's debilitating illness. You see, I have had to work 2 jobs since my daughter, Jenna, was diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is an incurable ailment where one is allergic to their own skin. A constant battle is fought with drugs to resist the body's urge to reject the skin, similar to the way a transplant patient's immune system tries to reject a transplanted organ.
But I digress. I would like to have TiVo digitally record my favorite show, Big Brother, each night so that I can watch it after I get home from my night job: Cleaning bathrooms and offices in the Cincinnati area.
Thank you,
posted by TuxHeDoh at 2:01 PM on September 26, 2000

Okay, here's my winning one...

I've never been the first at anything. Ever.

I once came third in a race once, but there were only three of us running, so that doesn't really count.

I was in a school spelling bee, too. I was doing really well until I was asked to spell aktualisat... actulaisa... actuealis... nevermind. Needless to say, I didn't win. Nancy Hardy won, and took home the little trophy with gold figure reading a dictionary on top.

I didn't even get a book voucher.

State-finals? Last. Drink-offs at the dorm? Last. Competition where a bunch of us guys had to get a girlfriend? Don’t even ask.

That’s why I need a Tivo. I need to be first at something. And I’d like to be the first person in Australia to own a Tivo. Sure, I might not be able to use it; it’s handy digital taping useless, it’s replay feature unable to co-exist with Australian television sets; but, by gum, I’ll be the first. The first Australian to own a Tivo!

posted by Neale at 2:06 PM on September 26, 2000

I don't know if I won, but I entered. I'll let you know how it went...
"I want a TiVo," my TV said.

"Um, what?"

"I've served you well for two years and I've never asked you for anything. It's payback time. Get me a TiVo."

"But TV," I protested, "I don't even have cable. I cancelled it two months ago, remember?"

"Yes," TV replied, "and you've been sulking about it ever since. You're driving your boyfriend crazy watching the same ten episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 over and over again. And I've been lonely with no cable running through me."

"I'm sorry about that, but cable became a waste of time and money. We never caught the shows we wanted to watch; we always forgot to set the VCR."

"That's why you should get me a TiVo," TV answered. "You can program it once to find your favorite shows all year, using 'Season Pass'. It records digitally, so you won't add to that box of X-Files videotapes in the closet. And forget sticking around on Friday nights just because Toonami's on. TiVo will record it; you can enjoy your cartoons the next day without fiddling with the VCR."

"Sounds like it would make cable worthwhile again," I admitted, "but I just preordered a PlayStation2. I can't really spring for a TiVo. Maybe next month."

"Maybe," TV said ominously. "But you better get me a TiVo, Amanda, or your PlayStation2 may mysteriously fail to get a picture. Get the picture?"

"Uh-huh," I gulped. "I'll see what I can do."

TV smiled.
posted by wiremommy at 3:28 PM on September 26, 2000

Okay, here's my winning entry. And I challenge Neale's claim to be the first Australian to own a TiVo, even if I did enter from within the US.
(The scene: A big TV set with dramatic music. A familiar face fills the screen.)

Regis: Hello, and welcome back to Who Wants to be a Millionaire! I'm Regis Philbin, and in the chair opposite me is... TiVo! He's going for ONE MILLION dollars, so - Let's Play!

(The music builds.)

Which of the following can you NOT do:

(a) Automatically record every episode of your owner's favorite shows;
(b) Pause live TV for up to 30 minutes;
(c) Suggest shows that match your owner's interests;
(d) Cook a turkey.

(TiVo squirms in his seat. This is big money, and he only has one lifeline left.)

TiVo: Can I phone a friend?

Regis: Sure!

(They ring the nominated number. It rings.)

TiVo: Hello, ReplayTV? I don't actually need any help - I've just called to let you know that I'VE WON A MILLION DOLLARS!

(Sounds of cursing on the other end of the line.)

TiVo: The answer is D!

Regis: Confident?

TiVo: Yes!

Regis: Final answer?

TiVo: Yes! It's D!

Regis: Are you absolutely sure?

TiVo: YES! IT'S D! D! D!!!

Regis: (Pauses... you know, if you had a TiVo you could skim through this pause or anything else on your TV screen.)


(Audience goes wild, and everyone rushes out to buy a TiVo.)
posted by rory at 3:39 PM on September 26, 2000

Here's mine (I won. 36 min):

While browsing MetaFilter the other day, I couldn't believe my eyes. "TivO's are raining from the sky," the headline read. "Tivo?" I thought. "Isn't that that wondeful tool that works like a vcr, only better? It lets you pause live TV, scan at speeds of up to 66x, and, most importantly, record your shows digitally, no hassle with videotapes!" I followed the link, and was overjoyed to find that TiVo's were being given away at the rate of ten a day! (I would later learn, via MetaFilter again, that the actual numbers were probably much higher) Nevertheless, I was wary. Would I ever really need to pause live TV? Or take advantage of the Season Pass option, recording my favorite shows even if they get rescheduled? In the end, I decided that, even if I didn't want one, I had no real choice but to enter and win, thereby becoming part of the "internet elite." After all, what else is there to life but pre-recorded television and MetaFilter? And why should I let my life be only half-complete? Help me find inner peace TiVo!
posted by Lirp at 4:27 PM on September 26, 2000

First, here is the 366-word version of my lame essay describing fake events:

Three days ago I was in the middle of watching an episode of "The
Facts of Life." Tootie's modelling job was in jeopardy because of
Mrs. Garrett's disapproval. I was sitting on my couch and and my eyes
were basically transfixed to the screen.

The phone rang. Against my better judgement I picked up the phone. I
guess I was yearning for some type of human contact. My eyes were
still looking at the screen as I uttered a "Hello?" into the receiver.

It was a telemarketer. Someone asking me to switch phone services. I
started to spit out "Uh, no, sorry..." only to have the young voice on
the other end counter back with a "But, we offer..."

I was actually so upset that they had interrupted my TV watching that
I didn't hang up on them right away. On the TV screen Tootie was
quitting her job and I had no idea why, for I had missed about 30
seconds of dialog.

The phone call eventually ended but it was too late. The TV show was over and I had no clue why Mrs. Garrett was so proud of Tootie. A
number of emotions went through me - sadness, frustration, anger, etc.
In fact, I was so frustrated that I forgot to watch "The Facts of
Life" the following day.

Days later, still harping on the telemarketer/Tootie incident, I
started remembering about the TiVo unit I read about awhile ago. So I
checked out the web site to learn more.

Had I had a TiVo unit several days ago, I could have used TrickPlay to
pause the show when the phone rang. TrickPlay would have then allowed
me to continue watching the show after I hung up on the telemarketer.

Additionally, if I had Season Pass with my TiVo I probably could have
set the unit to record every showing of "The Facts of Life." And thus
I wouldn't have missed the episode that I did.

Quite simply, I need a TiVo Video Recorder.


And here is the 250-word version. :(

I was watching an episode of "The Facts of Life."

The phone rang. Against my better judgement I picked it up. My eyes
were still looking at the screen as I uttered a "Hello?" into the

It was a telemarketer. I started to say "Uh, no, sorry..." only to
have the voice on the other end counter back with a "But, we offer..."

Confused and annoyed, I didn't hang up on them right away. On the TV
screen Tootie was quitting her job and I had no idea why - I had
missed about 30 seconds of dialog.

The phonecall ended but it was too late. The show was over and I had
no clue why Tootie was happy. I was angry and frustrated. I was so
frustrated that I forgot to watch "The Facts of Life" the following

Still harping on the telemarketer/Tootie incident, I started
remembering about the TiVo unit I read about awhile ago. So I checked
out the web site.

Had I had a TiVo unit several days ago, I could have used TrickPlay to
pause the show when the phone rang. TrickPlay would have then allowed
me to continue watching the show after I hung up on the telemarketer.

Additionally, if I had Season Pass with my TiVo I probably could have
set the unit to record every showing of "The Facts of Life." And thus
I wouldn't have missed the episode that I did.

Quite simply, I need a TiVo Video Recorder.

posted by gluechunk at 4:29 PM on September 26, 2000

My failed entry:

Three Big Words.
a short piece by Matt Haughey

The scene opens with a woman talking off camera in a loving tone

Woman: "We've been together what, three months? I wanted to tell you that I've never been happier. In that short time you've learned to read my mind, you think my thoughts, and you know my interests better than I do. You stop when I say stop and can always catch up to me. You never forget a time or date, and I can always count on you to make me happy, no matter what my mood is. You've been perfect since day one."

Woman: "I just wanted to say that I... I... I love you. I truly do. I hope we can spend eternity together."

The Woman gently moves one of her hands off camera. Just then a Man walks into the room, and we see the Woman caressing the front of a TiVo.

Man: "What are you doing?"

Woman: "Ah! Um, nothing honey!"
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:02 PM on September 26, 2000

Alright, I don't know if I won (the suspense is killing me, I assure you), but.. I'm rather proud of the 5 minutes I put into mine, so.. here's my entry anyway:

The TiVo (with apologies to E.A. Poe)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
That lately watching TV had become a terr'ble bore.
While I nodded, nearly napping, holding remote tightly, zapping,
I wished I had a TiVo that could end my TV bore.
If I got a TiVo I could record Bush debating with Al Gore
..and miss the Simpsons, nevermore.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak September
when I heard about this gread device, the shows it could record
with Season Pass and pausing it would prob'ly end up causing
me to watch more television - make me watch it more and more.
So I hope I win a TiVo, please, upon you I implore-
..so I miss the Simpsons nevermore.

posted by zempf at 5:56 PM on September 26, 2000

My non-winner, which I actually like:


I get back from my late shift at the coffee-shop wanting to make voodoo dolls of my worst customers, so that I can disembowel them with an extra-tall latte spoon. My mocha-sticky shoes tack-tack to the floor tiles,
my hair stinks of the second-hand exhalations of filter-tip philosophers, and as for the steamed milk stains on my shirt... Well, this time the alleycats nearly caught me on the walk back from the parking lot.

So I grab the remote, and slump into the couch. Tae Bo, T-Fal, C-SPAN, the usual nothing. And then I remember that it's Monday (well, not quite) and that I'd asked Michelle to tape "Ally" before I went out. I rewind the tape in the VCR, and press play. And bleary-eyed, I think it's strange that
they've used the same opening sequence as last week. Except it ~is~ last week's episode.


I wouldn't let it drop. "You /know/ I always watch Ally."

Michelle was nonplussed. "I forgot. Anyway, it was an re-run."

Through clenched teeth, I put on my best Ally voice.

"That. I. Didn't. Watch. First. Time. Round."

She shrugs. "Well, I'm sorry. But you can't expect me to remember everything for you."


The next morning, I arrive earlier than usual for the breakfast shift, to make sure I'm out of range for when Michelle puts salt in her coffee.

TiVo: because you can't expect your roommate to remember everything for you.
posted by holgate at 5:57 PM on September 26, 2000

(I should add that I submitted it on behalf of my girlfriend in Connecticut.)
posted by holgate at 5:59 PM on September 26, 2000

I won with this 5 minutes worth of work

I don’t want TiVo, I need TiVo.

Have you ever been around a woman who can’t watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer because she’s in ballet class? The doctor says that my leg and arm will be out of the cast in about four weeks and that the dizziness I suffered from the concussion is normal.

It is my job to make sure that everything, including the planets themselves, is lined up so that nothing will get in the way of her favorite TV program.

No problem if you are a video engineer but I don’t have the time to make sure a tape is rewound or if I am using last weeks tape or if I have the VCR set on the right channel.

With features like Season Pass and Now Playing I will be able to begin a normal life with out the video-tapping woes or any more visits to the hospital.

It is now clear to me that if I am to live beyond 31, I will need TiVo.

posted by Brilliantcrank at 6:10 PM on September 26, 2000

(I'm not proud of this winning entry but I'll present it here in the interest of science, or something)

Three months ago my younger brother, who lives with my dad, brought a TiVo home. That evening I stopped by for a demonstration.

I'm not a religious man, but I follow the ten commandments just to be safe. At the moment my brother used TrickPlay to pause live TV, I knew I was doomed -- two truths suddenly became clear which would shake me to my core: there IS a God, and if I ever try TiVo myself, I will covet it -- a mortal no-no -- until I have my own.

So I've stayed away from the TiVo and, sadly, my family, to try to keep my thoughts pure and chaste. Unfortunately, it's not working. My thumb knows about TrickPlay(tm), and searches for a pause button when I'm watching TV. I long for a Season Pass(tm) to catch every episode of my favorite cartoons. Without TiVo's Suggestions I'm missing hours of great stuff each week. I dream of sitting down with Now Playing and having all of my favorite shows available at the touch of a button. Network Showcases(tm) tells my family about the networks' best shows each day, while TiVo Takes(tm) brings them previews of the upcoming week and tops it off with a short film!

Bye dad, thanks Bro. Enjoy your TiVo, I'll see you in hell.
posted by sudama at 7:36 PM on September 26, 2000

Ok, here's my first non-winning entry:

What I Didn't Do Over My Summer Vacation

I had grand plans for my summer vacation.

I planned to go through all my tapes of Felicity to view the shows that I’d saved from the middle of March to see why Felicity ended up with Ben and not Noel.

I planned to find out if any stations were replaying episodes of My So-Called Life as I’d only caught the show during its marathons on MTV and only taped a few.

I had so many plans. Don’t get me started about my Buffy and NYPD Blue collections.

But they all fell through.

I don't know which tapes even have Felicity episodes on them, let alone watched any of them. I still don't know why she picked Boring Ben over Nifty Noel. My incomplete My So-Called Life episode collection remains as woefully gapped as it was before.

With TiVo, I'd never have these problems. I could program all my shows in to be taped so I could have an active social life and wouldn't have to cancel plans with friends to find out if Angel was on Buffy this week. I'd have a neatly-organized collection of shows and my apartment wouldn't be filled with mislabeled VCR tapes. I'd have more money to buy fun things for myself rather than blowing forty bucks every month on cable. Life would rock with TiVo. Please take this into consideration when picking winners -- my wallet's too light because I just sent my cable bill out!

And my second attempt (crossing my fingers):

An Urgent Message To TiVo:

TiVo, I beg of you -- help me live! I have been buried alive beneath my pile of videocassettes for three days now and can only reach the keyboard to pluck out this message to you. You must come quickly for I fear time grows short.

The Buffy tapes cut off circulation to my lower limbs two days ago and the Felicity tapes have dug into my lower back for the past day; I cannot feel anything below my ribcage as the NYPD Blue tapes have shifted bit by bit. Curse you, Tape Mountain! Curse you, VCR!

If only I had listened to my friends who kept saying how terrific you were, dear TiVo. But no, I dismissed their effusive praise as that of an idle crush and nothing more. My foolhardy attitude has proven to be my downfall as the mountain of videotapes collapsed upon me while I tried to figure out how to fix the clock on my VCR. I should have listened. I was a fool.

TiVo, if you will only heed my call for help, I promise I will adore you the rest of my days! Your SeasonPass technology is so alluring, TrickPlay is such an enticing and long-overdue feature -- how could I help but fall in love? TiVo, you must hurry... my fingers are growing weak as the Friends tapes shift and cut off my airway... TiVo, I need you! Please hurry!
posted by evixir at 7:52 PM on September 26, 2000

I want a TiVo. I need a TiVo. At first jump, I'd have to bring up my embarrassing obsession with Buffy. Here I am, an obsessed Buffy watcher and what do I do? Take my night courses on Tuesdays! And my wife, who (bless her heart) is too busy with the kids (2 1/2 and 9 months) to remember to tape the show for me. And here, Dracula is coming!

Of course, you may say 'but the VCR!', but if it isn't turned off, the timer doesn't work, and the kids want to watch Thomas all night, so the VCR is always on. Oh the humanity! Then there is the previews option, where I could have just hit a button and Dark Angel would be recorded, even though I forgot when the premier is. The Olympic soccer games! NBC, what you do to me by not letting me know when the games will be shown, I miss the men getting into the semifinals the first time in history!

And iFilms - more eye candy for my pleasure! Season pass for the kids making sure PBS's and Nick's changing schedules will not miss their favorite Zaboomafoos! Suggestions for kids! Suggestions for me! And my wife!

100 channels, nothings on? Showcases for the best! Trick play replays those memorable moments over and over! Football! Soccer! Jackie Chan! My heart aches for all the things I am missing, all the shows I fall asleep at 3am before the dramatic conclusion! TiVo save me!

posted by rich at 9:13 PM on September 26, 2000

T is for TiVo
(sung liberally to the tune of "C is for Cookie")

T is for TiVo, that's good enough for me.
I get to play God with the stuff on my TV.
No network exec is going to decide when I see
the television shows that make me so hap-py.

I is for innovative, that's the TiVo way.
All the great features that make me say "hooray!"
There's Season Pass, TiVo Central and Instant Replay,
and when you're feeling bold, turn on the ol' TrickPlay.

V is for variety, which describes the TiVo scene
Any show on television, none will go unseen.
No more staying up late drinking caffeine,
waiting for reruns of the hilarious Mr. Bean.

O is for optimistic, for the TiVo will soon be mine.
The envy of the neighborhood; all will stand in line.
It's hard to see my life without this device so fine.
For it's not only useful, it's divine!
posted by sandor at 7:04 AM on September 27, 2000

249 words, without trying. Too bad I won't know until I check my home e-mail tonight:

I don't watch that much television, but what I do watch, I watch fanatically. Unfortunately, my tastes in programming are eclectic and, well, pathetic. Action/adventure series. Cartoons. Cooking shows. Political dramas.

And pro wrestling.

My preferred programming comes on at odd hours, and often vary from week to week. Either I need someone to explain WB Kids' bizarre schedules for Batman Beyond, which seem to involve the kind of differential equation which I have forgotten since college, or I need TiVo's Now Playing schedule. TiVo's Season Pass might even allow me to sleep late, secure in the knowledge that I'll catch the adventures of Gotham's defender without accidentally recording the evil Pokemon.

Interruptions always seem to come at the worst time: a phone call comes just before a run-in costs the hardcore champ his title, or a critical step in food preparation coincides with President Bartlet's rousing speech to the White House staff. TiVo's TrickPlay could allow me to conceal my shameful love of scripted sports entertainment from a caller, or delay the dramatic climax until after those crucial moments of pan-searing. Not to mention the benefits of getting my own instant replay of that spectacular Hurricarana!

I'd love to see if TiVo's Suggestions can keep up with my ever-changing tastes in low-brow entertainment; who can tell when a classic science fiction stinker will suit my mood?

In short, only TiVo can save my sanity, or at least the facade of such I must maintain for the outside world.
posted by harmful at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2000

Proving that the second time is indeed the charm, I received the confirmation email today that yes, I have indeed won a TiVo... and will miss the Simpsons nevermore.
posted by zempf at 10:44 AM on September 27, 2000

I won! (on my second try) The essay:

I frittered away 4 important hours of life with a long nap this afternoon.


I am a college student working on my senior thesis.

When you are a college student, you find that you stay up late at night finishing up work and doing research. Some of that research MAY include watching reruns of “Hawaii 5-0” at 2:30am. You are torn between analyzing the rhetorical situation of visual communication and the surreal hat that Jack Lord is wearing as he is framed for a murder.

I’ve known many a student’s grades to plummet when faced with this moral dilemma.

And then just you hit the sack, the fabled lost episode of “Starsky & Hutch” where they get married to Huggy Bear comes on! Of course, this episode never existed, but since it’s 4:17am, it’s on and you found it and you must watch it.

And then you get expelled because you are sleeping through every class and exam.

Of course, if you had a TiVo, you could just use TiVo’s Season Pass™ feature to record every instance of early morning retro-cop shows. And when the programming executives move them to a decent time without telling you, TiVo is on top of things! Best of all, with TiVo’s TrickPlay™, you can savor every nuance of the big three-way kiss at the end of that mythical “Starsky & Hutch” episode.

When I step up to get my diploma, I’ll be sure to thank TiVo for saving my college career!
posted by stefnet at 2:31 PM on September 27, 2000

Yup. I won. MY wife thought it was cute, at least:

I inhaled deeply, and took another look in the mirror.

"I AM smart enough... I’ve got a law degree... I taught myself 3 different programming languages... I went to private schools all my life... I took geometry in eighth grade, for cryin’ out loud. I can DO this!”

The numerals 12:00 continued to blink... blink... blink... mocking me afresh with each surge of luminescence.

I reached for the ball peen hammer, thought better of it, and flipped down the panel. Punch, punch, punch. The buttons on the control panel yielded to the pressure of my fleshy fingertips. I had my way with the VCR clock. I programmed the record time. I checked the tape. Done.

A few hours later, the phone rang. My beloved.

"Darling, did you tape Survivor tonight like I asked?"

"Of course. I can see the tape running right now. Hurry home." I hung up. Rudy? Kelly? Rich? Susan? It was all I could do not to turn on the TV.

You know the rest. The blank tape. The flashing 12:00. The anguish. The divorce lawyers.

If only I’d had a TiVo. Easy to program. Digital clarity. No tape hassles. No blinking clocks. No blinking clocks. No blinking... ahem. Sorry.

What do you get for a guy who’s got no money but lots of time on his hands? A TiVo, of course. Can you get Cinemax on that thing?

posted by mikewas at 2:37 PM on September 27, 2000

Raining from the sky indeed — I just won with this TV noir:

The MalTiVo Falcon
A Detective Story in One Scene


I was sitting in my office, nursing a Scotch, when she walked in.

"Are you Max Hacker, Private Eye?"

"Who wants to know?"

"My name’s Mona. I’ll get right to the point, Mr. Hacker. I’m trying to find my favorite TV show. It’s been missing for about a week, ever since it left channel 2 last Tuesday. I’ve looked everywhere I can think of -- can you help me?"

Well. Another TV show on the loose. Looks like the networks were playing footsy with TV Guide again, trying to keep the viewing public on their toes.

"Sure, I can help you. What was the name of this show of yours?"

"King of the Hill." She started tearing.

A classic case – that show’s bounced all over the week, leaving scores of broken hearts in its wake.

"No problem, doll. These shows, sometimes they get in trouble with a network, you understand? Their ratings, shall we say, underperform, and they get moved to a new night. Sorta like the witness protection program. But I’ve got a tool that’ll help us find your show."

"What’s that?"

"I’ve got a TiVo, sweetheart. With its SeasonPass feature, we’ll find King of the Hill in no time. There’s nowhere in the viewing week they can move that show without me knowing."

"Oh thank you, Mr. Hacker! How can I ever repay you?"

I smiled and handed her the remote.


posted by raku at 2:43 PM on September 27, 2000

This TiVo thing is getting looney. I entered the contest, then hopped over here to MeFi to read the other winning threads, and discovered that my essay and zempf's essay are identical in inspiration and very similar in wording. Of course, we both won. Here's my version.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I browsed, tired and squinty,

Searching through many a TV guide listing, I had forgotten to record my dear ER.

When I nodded, almost collapsing, there came a chime at my e-mail door.

"You've got mail!" went the catchy score, 'Tis some junk mail and nothing more.

I maximized the e-mail window when forth sprang this strange new creature,

“TiVo!” I shouted, “I’ve heard of you”.

Attention he paid me not, instead fluttered atop my tower bay.

“TiVo, can you promise the worlds my TV can not? For I have missed my dear ER.”

Quoth the TiVo “Nevermore”.

“Liar!” said I, “thing of spam!”

Aid this couch potato who worships the gridiron lore,

Always is present nature’s call, and I miss the greatest touchdowns of yore.

Surely it is a thing of rumor, the pausing of live TV.

Quoth the TiVo “Nevermore”.

“Liar!” said I, “thing of spam!”

The TV listings I never study and the networks play havoc with timeslots galore.

I set the VCR as best I can, yet I still miss my favorite programs.

Quoth the TiVo “Nevermore”.

“Be that word our sign of friendship, dear sweet innovation!” I exclaimed,

“Get thee box atop my entertainment center! Leave no trace of my obsolete VCR!”

And the TiVO, never missing my favorite shows still sits atop my TV;

And his shiny black frame performs all the dirty work of television recording.

Forget my dear sweet ER? Nevermore!
posted by tomorama at 3:19 PM on September 27, 2000

My winning entry (and second attempt):
It was another typical night in the Freshmen Dorm. The stereos were jamming, the televisions were blaring, and Hall Director Matt Kingston was just getting home from his weekly staff meeting.

Matt turned on his television and settled in for a relaxing evening. But he was soon perplexed -- a new television season had started and he didn't know anything about the new shows on that night. Fortunately, Matt had a TiVO digital recorder, so he fliped on the TiVo SUGGESTION feature, and found a new show that matched up with his preprogrammed tastes.

Just as he was starting to enjoy the show, Matt's phone rang. There was a student on the roof threatening to jump! Up in a flash, Matt pressed "pause" on his TiVo remote control. Thanks to the Tivo TRICKPLAY feature, he would be able to start watching where he had left off when he got home.

Matt ran and joined the crowd forming in front of the building. "Why are you going to jump?" he shouted up to the crying young woman.

"My favorite TV show changed time slots and my stupid VCR recorded the wrong show!" she sobbed.

"That's nothing to get upset about." replied Matt. "If you buy a TiVo digital recorder, you'll be able to use the SEASON PASS feature -- Your TiVo will automatically record the show every week, no matter how often it changes days or time!"

A crisis solved! All with the help of the TiVo digital recorder!
posted by hit-or-miss at 3:49 PM on September 27, 2000

Here's my winning entry:

VCR Plans to Divorce Owner: "You Don't Love Me Anymore"

OAKLAND, CA - In what may be the world’s first human-appliance legal showdown, a VCR has initiated divorce proceedings against its owner.

The Stony(TM) brand video cassette recorder is claiming neglect in the unprecedented case, according to court documents.

“The problems began when [owner Bill Jennings] hooked up his Tivo,” the VCR told the court. “Before, he would always use me to record his favorite shows while he was at work. Sometimes I even recorded one show while he watched another. But that’s all changed now.

“It all started when Bill brought home a brand new Tivo. I never felt any competition from the other recorders, so I wasn’t worried about the new device. I should have known better.

“Now, all hear is ‘why can’t you pause live tv?’ and ‘why should I pay for videotape?’ and, worst of all, ‘let’s go digital’. I ask you, is digital that much better?”

Jennings, the owner named in the divorce proceedings, refused all interview requests. His lawyer, however, gave the following statement outside the court:

“Mr. Jennings admits no wrongdoing in acquiring a Tivo. This VCR is well-acquainted with the ways in which obsolete home appliances are squeezed out by better, more powerful models. In fact, our legal team can demonstrate that the VCR has itself benefited by the obsolence of, among others, the owner’s former Betamax unit.”

The court is expected to reach a decision by the end of the month.

posted by bjennings at 5:38 PM on September 27, 2000

Here's mine, god those tivo people are a sucker for boobs.

Before I get started I would just like to let you know that I’m 24, female, hottttt, and not adverse to showing naked pictures, if it would help me beat anyone else competing.

Now I will describe my life for you:

I have a television. It's beautiful. It's 36", high definition, flat screen, Dolby sound. This television is more sexually satisfying than my last three boyfriends. And darlings, I know this is wrong, but I will admit that I have, on occasion, had impure thoughts about it.

My television is precariously perched on two milk crates. I don't have any furniture at all, I saved for months to purchase Sammy (that is what I call him, Sammy), I pawned my jewelry and gold teeth, I sold blood, I became a prostitute. I sold an article to Jane Magazine, of all things. My shame runs deep, but I have my television.

My television is like crack. I stay up in thirty six hour sessions watching infomercials, I sleep fitfully for fear of what I'm missing. I've stopped going to work and updating my webpage (800 daily unique visitors will hate you!) If I had a TiVo, my life could start going back to normal. It would be a twelve step program without any of the steps. I need it. Do you hear me? I need it. Give it to me.
posted by Andrea at 5:46 PM on September 27, 2000

It was a good date. I think it was a good date. "James Belushi ate here once," she tells me, her eyes wide with possiblity that he could have used the very fork she's now sliding into her mouth. I am impressed.

She tells me about her trip to Bermuda, her fling with an island boy, her flight getting cancelled and having to stay an extra night.

I see my chance: "Did you know TiVo keeps up to date with schedule changes? So if they move 'Becker' again, TiVo will know and manage to record it!"

"No," she smiles, our kids are going to have great smiles, "I didn't know that. So anyway, it turns out that Gregorio, the island boy I told you about, followed me back to Boston! I was like, oh my god! Then he totally got down on one knee and proposed. Right in the middle of my mom's fashion show at the Club."

"TiVo can also pause during interruptions."

The waiter comes by and delivers the bill. I ask him, "Did you know TiVo Service is less than $10 a month? I could pay for five months of service for the cost of this meal."


Back at my apartment she asks, "You mean you don't even *own* a TiVo?".

"No, but see that space," I pointed to an area clear of smiling-dwarf tchotchkes. "That's where my new TiVo will go." She then went home to clear a space for her TiVo too, I think.

posted by perplexed at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2000

Here's my winning entry. And I thought I was going to be the first one here with the "fake news story" idea.


WASHINGTON, DC -- With thousands of VCRs being thrown out by Americans every day, the question looms: What to do with all of them?

Jeremy Spitwell, director of the VCR Disposal Foundation, says the booming popularity of TiVo's easy-to-use digital technology has sped the VCR's decline.

"When people discovered TiVo could pause and instantly replay live TV and automatically record programs that match their interests, well, VCRs didn't stand a chance," he says.

Some video rental shops are now VCR recycling centers, where unwanted VCRs are being converted into flower boxes, spice racks, and cat litter pans.

Dennis Makeshift of Recycl-O-Tech (formerly Rent-A-Vid), says, "With TiVo's ability to provide instant access to up to 30 hours of movies recorded from cable and satellite, video rentals aren't that popular anymore. But everybody needs spice racks."

Conceptual artist Maximo Christof is soliciting discarded VCRs for his "Shrine to Obsolescence," a 150-foot-high sculpture he is constructing in the Nevada desert. So far, however, he has found few benefactors.

"If there's one thing Americans hate more than programming VCRs, it's conceptual art," admits Christof.

Meanwhile, NASA is seeking Congressional approval for a plan to shoot the surplus VCRs into the sun.

"My TiVo is automatically recording for me every episode of Star Trek in every timeslot on every channel, and my review of these programs indicates our plan will succeed," says NASA director Ogden Askworthy.
posted by jjg at 6:03 PM on September 27, 2000

The following is mostly fiction and has been embellished for dramatic effect. Any resemblance to anyone alive of dead or who may or may not have been or are being my girlfriend is entirely coincidental.

That said, here is my winning essay:

    My girlfriend loves television. I mean, she really. Really. Loves. Television. She's one of those people who keeps it on all the time to fill the day. Me, I prefer a few good cds on random. Or a hundred (perfectly legal!) mp3s. Or a case of beer. But that's just me. My girlfriend, she likes television. And it drives me crazy. So I figure, I need a TiVo. That way I could secretly tell it all the shows I like at night when she sleeps. Then the next day, when the TiVo is going instead of live television, I can walk by and say: "Say! Is that the Simpsons? I love that show." Instant relationship bliss, thanks to TiVo.

posted by fraying at 6:26 PM on September 27, 2000

My lame-o winning entry I wrote at lunch:

My friends call me on the telephone every evening.

But when they call, I'm watching my favorite television show: Robo-Action-Warriors of Spain. And I cannot watch the television talk to my friends at the same time; I lose my place in the story! I need the TiVo to remember the story until my friends hang up!

One day, I was watching Robo-Action-Warriors, and a new friend, Guy, called me. He was very excited about a new long distance telephone plan, so I pressed 'Mute' on my television. I wanted to finish watching the story:
Obosport had captured Ariel for the astrogem on her bracelet! While Guy and I talked, I could see Morto looking for Obosport's headquarters, Ariel trying to escape, and Obosport testing his laser on a nearby village! While I appreciated Guy's telephone call, there was a part of me that wished his house would explode so I could finish the story.

When Guy hung up, the show was over. I never found out what happened to Ariel, Morto or the astrogem!

The TiVo can remember the story while I'm on the telephone, and then show it to me afterwards! This would be a lifesaver! If there is still some of the story left, I can watch from where I left off and the TiVo will remember the rest of the story while I watch! With my VCR, I would have to wait until RAW is over before seeing it. The TiVo would be perfection!

Thank you, TiVo!

posted by dan_of_brainlog at 7:14 PM on September 27, 2000

Won one this afternoon. 250 words. One draft. Five minutes. Apologies to mikewas for accidental similarities.

I was sitting in my office when she walked in. She didn't wear red and I couldn't see her legs, but I knew she was trouble from the look on her face.

"I missed it," she said. I figured she'd missed the boat to smartsville, but I motioned her to go on. "I missed Oprah."

I looked at her. I'd seen this before, too many times. "What time is it?" I asked her.

"12:00," she replied, a confused look having taken up permanent residence on her face.

"All the time?"

"All the time," she agreed.

"Figures," I said. I opened the blinds and looked out the window at the night street. It was well past ten. Almost time for Letterman. I wasn't scared. "You've got a VCR," I told her. She nodded. "And you don't know how to program it." She nodded again. "And you think I can help?"

"I can pay," she said. "I can't keep living this way."

"Don't pay me, sister. Drop by the store and pick up a TiVo. You can pay them, instead. $9.99 a month or less. Just tell it to record Oprah and you're in business again."

"What about the clock?"

"It'll be right, too. You can even pause live broadcasts, or search for shows that interest you."

"Like television movies with Oprah?"

"Even that," I agreed.

A look of relief sparkled in her cow-like eyes. "How can I thank you?"

"Don't thank me," I said. "I'm just trying to win a contest."

posted by Nightfall at 7:35 PM on September 27, 2000

Well, here's my winning entry. My first entry lost, so I tried another.


Last Sunday, our daughter Heather didn't make the cheerleading team, my great-uncle Albert bled to death, my husband broke his back, and our cat Chuckles died.

Four seemingly-unrelated events, but they all could have been avoided if only we'd had a Tivo.

Example 1: 14-year-old Heather stays up Saturday night until 2am to watch a rerun of N'Sync's appearance on TRL and Britney Spears on Saturday Night Live. Oversleeps on Sunday. Late for cheerleading tryouts, falls off the cheerleader pyramid in exhaustion, and breaks her nose.

Example 2: 73-year-old Albert spends his Saturday evenings planning his television schedule for the coming week. After hours of skimming and highlighting, passes out face-down in his pile of TV Guide magazines, giving himself a nasty paper cut. Albert, a hemophiliac, bleeds to death in his sleep.

Example 3: 36-year-old Andrew watches the Olympics when the phone rings. Running full-tilt to the phone, desparate not to miss a moment of the women's volleyball coverage, he trips over the love seat, flies over the couch, and lands on our Persian cat, Chuckles.

With Tivo's miraculous features -- the ability to recommend and automatically record shows that match your interests, exclusive on-screen TV listings and previews, and the ability to pause and rewind live television -- Heather's nose would be fine, Uncle Albert would still be with us, Andrew wouldn't be in intensive care, and we'd still have our beloved Chuckles.

Please send us a Tivo to avert any future tragedy.
posted by waxpancake at 10:56 PM on September 27, 2000

Funny story one day at work...

I was sitting at my desk when Karen stomped by grumbling under her breath, "I swear".
I leaned over and said to Karen, "ya know, you really shouldn't swear...you'll go to hell for that" (I thought this would get a reaction outta her, since her father is a minister).

At this time Deb (her co-worker) arrived at my desk also.

Karen replied, "well then, I'll just go home and say 10 Rosmarys before I go to bed".

Deb and I looked at each other, started to giggle and replied to Karen, "Rosemarys? Rosemary is a cooking ingredient".

Karen (flustered) replied, "You guys know what I mean, I meant to say Hail Marys. I'm going to go home and say 10 Hail Marys before I go to bed".

Deb and I (still giggling) said, "Yeah, sure you did".

I then replied to Karen, "Besides, Rosebud was a sled!"
posted by 120degrees at 11:08 PM on September 27, 2000

not a winner...YET:

“He ate an insanity pepper!”
“It was so funny!!!”

I shouldn’t be hearing this. I should *know* this.

“Homer coated his mouth with wax and ate the pepper…”

Jim was laughing hard as he said it, snorting through the words. I could picture the animation running behind his eyes…replaying the “Homer Goes to the Chili Cookoff”episode in his head.

*I* was the biggest Simpsons fan amongst us. This was so unfair.

You see, I had dinner with my parents while the Simpsons were on. I was sharing select pieces of my life with Mom and Dad while the waiter brought multiple baskets of bread.

While Homer ate the insanity pepper, I was spreading my individual butter pat on a slice of olive loaf.

If I had a TiVo, this would be a pleasant memory.

But, alas…

When I returned home, disaster was waiting for me.

The rewind whirring finally stopped.


“You see, Susan, even after cutting through the marble tile, the Titan’s stainless steel blade can still glide through this over-ripe tomato like it was warm butter…”

Ack!!!! What channel did I tape!?! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

From what I understand, it was a really good episode.

From what I understand.

If I had a TiVo…I would know all about it. I would have the Chili Cookoff and EVERY Simpsons of the season recorded.

Perhaps if I had TiVO’s Season Pass feature in place, the taste in my mouth would be imagined insanity pepper…NOT the olive loaf and bile mixture that is rising up now.

posted by halcyon at 11:35 PM on September 27, 2000

I think I put about half a milligram of effort into this, and won anyway. Similiarities to Brad's are not intentional. Besides, his is much better.

There once was a lady in Duffy
Who thought watching TV was rough-y.
She missed all her shows
And everyone knows
Her VCR didn't tape "Buffy."

Her neighbor was so sympathetic.
He knew that stuff gave her a headache.
"I just got this cool thing
That eases everything,"
He said, when she acted so hectic.

"I record digitally.
With TiVo, it's easy for me.
I record all my shows,
The Season Pass knows
If its time was changed; for it may be.

The TiVo box is very smart.
If there's nothing on, I don't depart.
It suggests what to use
(It knows what I would choose)
And records it when that show will start.

The TiVo makes everything just right.
It records any day or at night.
Stop constantly staring;
Pause shows as they're airing.
And you can win one on their web site!"

So she henceforth had a TiVo.
It certainly was a relief-o.
Her videos must
Collect a lot of dust.
The programs she misses are zero.
posted by Nikolai at 4:26 AM on September 28, 2000

I wrote this last week after Jason pointed out the contest. It was a loser the first time. After reading about all the winners this week, I retried with the same thing. It won.

Ode on a TiVO (With apologies to Keats)


Watched TV shows are sweet, but those unknown

     Are sweeter; so, ye TiVO, record on;

Not on plastic tape, but, with 0 and 1,

     capture the shows I'd like when I am gone:

Fair youth, upon my set, thou canst not leave

     Thy post, for if I were to get a call;

          while watching, never, never willst I miss,

a winning field goal--oh, I would grieve;

     you can pause live TV--oh joy! oh bliss!,

          and instant replay! Oh, you have it all!


Ah, happy, happy days! When "nothing's on",

     Your suggestions shows to me that that's not so;

You are watching, when my TV's not on,

     For show's I'd like. You're smart, that's how you know;

More happy love! more happy, happy love!

     For all season a show should be enjoy'd,

          But the networks move, or delay, and hide;

My VCR would miss. I'm now above

     Their tricks. My own network! I'm not annoyed,

          I have control. I am in charge. The pride!

posted by ewagoner at 10:23 AM on September 28, 2000

I am a big, fat loser. they didn't like this:

Oh woe is me! I toil away with my endless tapping, a delirious QWERTY-bird sowing my fortune from the digital landscape. How I long to be enveloped in the supple embrace of my couch enjoying reruns of CHiPs. Who shall come to my rescue? TiVo is here to save the day! Deliver me from this dotcom drudgery and give me the power to control the 4:3 world!
posted by donkeysuck at 11:47 AM on September 28, 2000

I didn't win, dammit. But here's my essay, anyway:

Frankly, I don't deserve a free TiVo Personal Digital Recorder.

The thing is, my VCR is hard to program. A little angel on my left shoulder reminds me that I should just buy a new, easier to program VCR. Or, better still, I could purchase a TiVo and let it record my favorite shows for me.

But the devil on my right shoulder says that I shouldn't be ashamed by that certain adrenaline-fueled visceral thrill I get when the clock hits five-thirty-pee-em and BANG I'm out the door, flying home like some candy apple red two ton streak of steel and spectacles, driving
over pedestrians, tailgating senior citizens, knocking down neighbors, shoving aside my girlfriend's sexual advances, just so I can hit 'record' on my VCR to catch one more syndicated episode of the Simpsons.

I don't deserve a free TiVo Personal Digital Recorder.

But gosh darn if everyone around me doesn't wish I'd get one.
posted by eamondaly at 12:08 PM on September 28, 2000

OK, here's my really pathetic winning entry. (Let me disclaim that it's mostly fictitious. My husband doesn't like football, and I'm more likely to watch pro-wrestling than he is.)

After another long day at the office, followed by a battle through rush hour traffic, I want nothing more than to be able to relax on the couch and watch some TV.

Alas, my husband has beaten me home!

So much for Sex in the City. So much for HGTV. Instead, it's another night of pro-wrestling. I am tired of smelling what The Rock is cooking!

If I had a TiVO, I could leave the TV to my husband while I relaxed in the tub. After his shows, I could retreat to the couch to watch my own using Now Playing™.

I could even beat him home, and with TiVO's Season Pass™, he wouldn't have to miss a single episode of Monday Night Football.

With TrickPlay™, neither of us would have to miss a moment of live broadcasts because my mother called or one of the cats knocked over another lamp.

And, the idea of Suggestions and Exclusives…. Custom content delivered right to us. Who could ask for anything more?

Men may be from ESPN while women are from HGTV, but with TiVO, everyone gets the content they want.

posted by phichens at 12:31 PM on September 28, 2000

You know why TiVo is great? Because they love penguins! Yeah, that's right, Penguins with a capital
P that rhymes with T which stands for TiVo. First to market because of the development speed of
Linux, the choice of a GNU Generation!

No, seriously, I'm pleased to see a company that based a major consumer product on my favorite
operating system succeed at it; quite regardless of the fact that it's a darned spiffy toy. It remains to be
seen whether the executive staff will survive the wrath of the network television business, but I, for one,
certainly hope that they do.
posted by baylink at 2:11 PM on September 28, 2000

Oh, crap. "Winning essay". Damn. I'll let you know, 'k?\
posted by baylink at 2:11 PM on September 28, 2000

Okay. Someone wanted to read the stupidest TiVo essay, so I wrote it - let's see if I can win one. Maybe I can pull it apart and use the HDD!

I have a hearing problem.

It started just after that last concert - You know the type - where the music is so loud the vibrations hit your chest like a sack full of damp laundry. From that point on I’ve had a tough time making out words – they’re all fuzzy and unintelligible. It’s like when my buddy said, “I need a beer dude!” What I heard is, ”I’ll feed a deer nude!” It’s annoying to say the least, especially when I’m watching my favorite TV shows.

That’s where Tivo saves the day. You see, Tivo lets me pause and rewind live television so I can actually decipher what’s being said. This comes in handy during my favorite live action cop shows; thanks to Tivo I know why the guy in the stained white tank top just scurried over the fence like a jackrabbit and is hiding under that upside-down plastic kiddie pool.

Once I’ve figured out what they’re saying, I simply resume watching and I don’t miss a minute of the action. Very cool indeed.

Now all I need is Tivo to give me a hand with the rest of my life, like last night when I was at that club, and that cute girl came up to me and said, “this tune makes me want to dance”. Unfortunately what I heard was “tuna makes you look fat in those pants”, and where can you go from there?

posted by BitBoy at 2:42 AM on September 30, 2000

wow. i've been seeing a lot of people posting their tivo 'essays' here, and on their sites, and it leads me to a single natural conclusion: online writing is in seriously terrible shape.

and i actually don't mean this a critique of the actual CONTENT of any of the tivo essays. (that's mostly because i don't have the patience to sift through all of them. ) the problem is A) all these people are essentially writing free commercials for tivo in exchange for receiving some low-end merchandise overstock and B) the writers are treating these essays like 'published' writing.

just because you can pee your name in the snow it doesn't mean you can call yourself a published (or, as these particular posts imply, 'prize winning') writer.

most people i know don't even read web content, and even though i produce some of that content i have a hard time defending the web as a viable publishing medium. there's just too much shit being passed off as published material. no fact-checking, no proper editing and, in the case of these tivo things (and even as i write this i can't believe i've seen them posted on people's sites as if the public needs to know what level of writing craft wins you a fucking tivo), a completely delusional notion of what is worth publishing.

posted by vanpatented at 11:48 PM on October 1, 2000

Just found out that Adam at sellke.com and I share a brain as far as TiVo contest entries are concerned. His version is definitely more original than mine (and posted on his blog). We both won, however. He did his a couple days before mine, apparently, but I just found out yesterday about the coincidence. My actual entry (p.s. thanks to Jason Kottke for inspiring the realization that a straight essay was not required):

From the upcoming album “Q: Are we not digital? A: We are TiVo!”

“Click it (one button programming and replay)”

Make that click
give the past the slip
TiVo’s the crack
give your VCR back
when a good show comes along
you must click it
before TiVo it took too long
you must click it
to record all season long
you must click it
now click it
into shape
one button only
get straight
go forward
move ahead
try the TiVo
it's not too late
to click it
click it good
when a good game turns around
you must click it
you might miss the first down
unless you click it
no one gets tv their way
until they click it
i say click it
click it good

thanks to the original performers, Devo, and aplogies to Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale.
posted by cheekychk at 7:55 AM on October 6, 2000

I'm a loser. I sent this in to Tivo. They essentially said, "Suck it."

It isn't *that* bad, is it?

Maybe because it makes it sound as if we already own a Tivo. Maybe I'll edit it and resend it for fun.


Dear Tivo,

It’s all your fault. All of it.

Fresh Price of Bel-air.
Facts of Life.
Little House on the Prairie.
Full House.

Sweet mother of pearl -- FULL HOUSE?

I could blame my wife. I mean, she’s the one who is upstairs watching the Facts of Life marathon right now. Hogging the television. Laughing out loud every time Tootie says, “Someone’s in truuuuuu-bulllllll”. I knew I should never have allowed Neilson to hook up that box.

What country do we live in that allows episodes of “Avonley” and “Two of a Kind” to run non-stop around the clock? Let the insomniacs have some peace, would you? Surely, you have a soul?

But you wonder who keeps these shows on the air? It’s you. You let people like my wife record every episode of “Wings” ever created (even though she’s already seen them all) and then play them back whenever she wants. She doesn’t miss a single second of “Saved by the Bell” because she can use Tivo to pause it, just in time to see Screech get dumped at the prom.

As if this wasn’t bad enough – thirty hours of recording time? Thirty, Tivo? Now, no matter what time of day or night, regardless of timeslot, network, or even television hookup, you actually allow people to record 30 hours of “Family Matters”? There’s a reason that it comes on at 4:00 AM. It’s called filler.

I am simply appalled. Please discontinue your Tivo product immediately.


Gary “Whatch-you-talkin’-bout” Coleman

posted by aaronchristy at 1:56 PM on October 21, 2000

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