TiVo’s ‘Video On Demand’ feature is AWESOME … and by ‘AWESOME,’ I mean it blows

One of the nice things about having two children who no longer are babies is that you can actually do things with them.

Yes, I know, there are those—Wonder Woman herself, even—who get all misty when they think about the baby years, and feel a twinge inside whenever they see someone with a newborn … a twinge that says, “Baby! Baby cute! Baby cuddly! Baby so sweet! Must have another!”

I feel a different twinge … a twinge that says, “Oh, you don’t even know what a great time you’re going to have during the looooooong, sleep-deprived, sanity-testing months to come. Have fun lugging around that kiddie carrier and diaper bag and bottles and burp cloths, and do be sure to enjoy changing poopy diapers that on more than one occasion will spectacularly fail to properly contain the poop, and embrace the notion of getting woken up repeatedly throughout the night by a helpless little being who can do absolutely nothing for itself, and screams and cries without being able to tell you what all the screaming and the crying is about, and, man-oh-man, I really need to send a fruit basket to the doctor who performed my vasectomy!”

But I digress. (Shocking, I know.)

Back to our topic, which it occurs to me I haven’t even mentioned yet, and thank you for your patience.

Here at Casa de Scratches, we’ve started a new family activity: Movie Night.

Movie Night is a weekly occurrence that we’ve decided will take place every weekend, usually on Saturday. So far, we’ve seen “Space Chimps,” “Space Buddies,” “Madagascar,” “Madagascar 2,” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” and have I told you about the time my brain evaporated?

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua” was a last-minute replacement this past Sunday night (postponed from Saturday night so that Mommy and Daddy could drink—I mean, go to the Parents’ Social for Zan’s school). But before I tell you about Sunday, let’s jump back to a few Saturdays ago.

Because I don’t keep up with our Netflix queue, or with mailing back to Netflix the movies lying around here unwatched for months at a time, and because going on that grueling journey up the street to the video store is such a hardship, we, as of just before dinner time on the Saturday in question, did not yet have a movie for Movie Night.

“Ah-HA!” said I. “I shall use TiVo’s Video on Demand feature, which, through the wonders of modern technology, will beam a feature film right to our TiVo! Huzzah!”

Wonder Woman and I had used the service several months prior, and I remembered it as being quick and painless, so the kids and I headed to the family room to make a selection. As we browsed the menu on the TiVo, I noticed that the menu was moving sloooooowwwlllyyy—which I probably should have taken as a warning sign, but picking up on warning signs isn’t necessarily my strong suit.

We settled on the Pixar film “Chicken Little,” so I selected the option to pay for, and download, the movie. We then sat down at the dinner table while magical elves magically teleported the movie from their magical headquarters to our humble abode.

After dinner, Wonder Woman fired up the ol’ popcorn maker while I settled in on the couch with the kids, who were chomping at the bit. I attempted to cue up the movie, which had been downloading for some time, and was greeted with a message that said it would be several hours before we could watch the film.

That left me having to explain to my 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son that they couldn’t watch the movie I had spent the past hour getting them psyched up for because Techno Daddy decided to get all George Jetson with the Movie Night plans only to discover that the future has not yet arrived.

“But why can’t we watch ‘Chicken Little,’ Daddy?”

“Because Daddy is a boob, children. Get used to it.”

I apologized profusely to my clan, and we ended up picking as a substitute something from our own collection of mind-numbing children’s DVDs, all of which the kids have watched enough times to reenact them from start to finish.

The next weekend, Daddy wasn’t going to fuck around with Movie Night, no siree. I strapped the kids into the car and headed to Blockbuster. Zan wanted “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” Jayna wanted “Madagascar 2.” Daddy wanted a stiff drink.

I flipped a coin, and Zan won the toss, so off to the “B” section of the New Releases we went … and when we arrived, we discovered that every copy of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” was checked out, which he took really well—and by “really well,” I mean he teared up and blamed all of the evil in the universe on me, and threatened to boycott Movie Night entirely if we got “Madagascar 2.” Fortunately, he got over it by the time we returned home, and Movie Night came off without a hitch.

A week and a half later, shortly after returning from my trip to Austin, I noticed that the “Madagascar 2” DVD case was still lounging atop the television set. Balls.

Wonder Woman returned it to Blockbuster a day or two later, and I don’t even want to know what our balance is there. My plan is to never again rent a movie from them, and instead hope they go bankrupt before anyone notices how much we owe them.

So this brings us to this past weekend. On Saturday evening, Zan suggested drawing a movie poster for Movie Night, which I told him was a great idea. We agreed that we would pick out a movie the next morning and then make the poster.

On Sunday morning, Zan and I were on the couch shortly after 6 a.m., and he really wanted to get to work on the poster, so we navigated through some more agonizingly slow TiVo On Demand menus and chose “Robots.” The actual movie-watching part of Movie Night was a good 12 hours away, so even though the TiVo advised me that the download would take 10 hours and 26 minutes (???!!!), there was no chance of a repeat fuck-up, right? Am I right? Anyone?

(By now, you know where this is going, so let me try to get to it in under 25,000 words.)

Zan drew a very impressive “Robots” poster and we hung it on the wall by the television set, where it spent the day reminding us all of what the Movie Night feature would be. Each time Zan spotted it, he voiced his excitement about watching “Robots” later that evening, and I seconded his excitement, and it was just delightful, our enthusiasm about our family’s new Movie Night tradition.

As we took our seats on the couch roughly 12 hours after I clicked “Rent movie” on the TiVo, that motherfucking piece of shit had the balls to tell me that it would still be about an hour-and-a-half before we could begin watching the flick, because, as I subsequently learned via Amazon’s cute little “TiVo Video On Demand” F.A.Q., my Series 2 TiVo doesn’t support progressive downloading (meaning the ability to begin the movie even if the download isn’t yet complete) … except that’s bullshit, because when I move shows from my iMac to the TiVo, it lets us begin watching them immediately, even though only a fraction of the program has been transferred at the time viewing begins.

Of course, the F.A.Q. can’t be trusted anyway, because it also says that, on a fast broadband connection (which I have), downloading a movie can take up to an hour, and that on a slow broadband connection (which I don’t have, no no), downloading a movie can take up to five hours … and, as you math enthusiasts can attest, five hours is still a whole lot less than 13.5 hours. Cocksuckers.

So, once again, Daddy ruined Movie Night. As punishment, I had to sit through “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” which Zan’s grandmother bought for him while I was in Texas. I am substantially dumber for having watched that film. I estimate that it shaved a good 10 points off of my I.Q. score … though you shouldn’t rely on my powers of estimation, because, as noted in the previous sentence, me not as smart as me was b4.

Next week, the nice man from Verizon is supposed to come install FiOS and a set-top DVR. I am hoping that the “On Demand” feature will be the solution to our recent Movie Night problems. And if it isn’t, then I’m going to suggest we experiment with Karaoke Night or Shadow-Puppet Night … or, better yet, Early-to-Bed Night.

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  1. Posted April 1, 2009 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    You have to download a movie on Tivo before you can watch it? What a PITA.

    For the record, I love my DVR…love it. And our On Demand works…well, you know “on demand”…movies start immediately. I hope Verizon works out for you!

    Movie night sounds like fun otherwise. Kid movies and all.

  2. E
    Posted April 1, 2009 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    And that’s why there is drinking.

  3. Posted April 1, 2009 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Woo! I am so excited for you! Also, I am glad that you will be my FiOS guinea pig. I want to want it, but I am still scarred by my miserable experience with the Verizon network back in the DSL days.

  4. Attilla the Mum
    Posted April 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I had to stop in the middle of reading this, right where you decided to try the TiVo V.O.D. again for “Robots,” and say (out loud, mind you), “Oh no he di-n’t!” I don’t think I’ve ever felt amusement AND dismay at the same time before! At least you can say that your life is not boring. But wait, that’s a Chinese curse, isn’t it? “May you live in interesting times?”

  5. Posted April 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    At least you didn’t pay $70 to take your family to see that piece of crap Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which is what we did, on opening night. I could hardly keep my $13 small box of popcorn down. That was one dumb movie.

    BTW, Blockbuster doesn’t charge late fees anymore (at least not in Denver). If you don’t return something within about 10 days, they bill your credit card for about $250, and then when you return it, they uncharge your credit card. So you don’t have to wear dark glasses and a baseball hat and try to rent on your kids account anymore.

  6. Posted April 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    On demand is amazing! Except when it isn’t…I’ve gotten to know a wide range of Comcast customer service reps trying to get it to work (when in doubt they just have to reboot it…simple fix). But that’s in the good ol’ Live free or die state…perhaps Mass has it’s act together!

  7. Posted April 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    DS I had this same EXACT issue with that feature. I was home sick one day and wanted to watch one of these embarrassingly lame chick-flicks while I was home alone. What can I say, they are a guilty pleasure of mine. The damn thing took like 18 HOURS to download!!!! Now, previously, I had done this, and the movie downloaded in about 45 minutes to the point that I could begin watching it, and I loved that. I also have super fast cable internet, so I was PISSED beyond description. Especially when the time to download kept GOING UP! It’s my belief it’s Amazon’s problem because my Tivo is awesome otherwise.

  8. Posted April 1, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Note to self…avoid TiVo like the plague!!! FYI…you’re a great daddy!

  9. Posted April 1, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    OMG! I feel your pain on so many levels! Been there, done that with every bit of your story. Do you guys have the RedBox out there? That might work for you? $1 movies and return when you want to ANY location!

    We do the Netflix! LOVE IT! I too was tired of late fees when forgetting to return them. And did you know, NEtflix, you can Prepick movies like 30 at a time, and then forget all about them, and they will ship them when ever you send it back. So you dont have to worry about planning it or knowing which to pick. AND you can watch movies via online for free!


  10. Posted April 1, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Early-to-bed night is my favorite family event. 🙂

  11. Posted April 2, 2009 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Hilarious! My son just jumped on me with one of those poop filled diapers. So now I’m sitting here smelling like poop, reading your blog, and laughing. Thank you for that.


  12. Posted April 2, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    You have cracked my shit up yet again. I have been warned against that Whatever Technology That Doesn’t Actually Work.

    I would like to recommend that you avoid that Adam Sandler classic (and by classic, I mean completely awful), Bedtime Stories. Even my children were bored by it.

  13. Posted April 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Wow…a Dad.. I’m so glad I found you : ) Will put you on my list !!!


  14. Posted April 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s no wonder teenagers think their parents are mental midgets ~ we’ve spent YEARS proving that very fact and then expect them to accept that we’re smarter than they are. Meanwhile they can do calculus and we’re still trying to remember what 9 X 7 equals.

  15. Posted April 2, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Can you just re-schedule movie night? Like “hey kids, you’ve got your dates mixed up, movie night is in seven days!” Will anybody notice?

  16. Posted April 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I just wanted to thank you for stopping by my old blog (Just a Girl…And Her Dogs) from bossy’s site. I enjoyed your response to my post on passions. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to take the risks you talked about.

    Anyway, I moved my blog recently to become anonomous again. Feel free to stop by!


  17. Posted April 2, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Just have fun spending $4.99 a pop when you rent the On Demand movies from Verizon. I have them and the price sucks. Otherwise, great service.

  18. Posted April 3, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    As an woman whose 8 months pregnant with my first baby, let me thank you for those first few paragraphs. I will now to cry into my third box of Girl Scout cookies this morning.


  19. Posted April 4, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    OK, new option here. Buy a computer to TV output cable (about $40) for your mac, then watch Netflix instantly for all kinds of movies and kids shows. My son is watching Suite Life of Zack and Cody as I write, streaming live down the FIOS line. He’s probably losing some IQ points too, come to think of it…

    We actually ditched TV altogether, and have an iMac mini, a 22″ screen (and a tiny living room that allows us to see a 22″ screen) and a 500 gig backup drive named Bubba to store all our tunes and movies. My husband even took all our DVDs that we own and stored them on there, so all our media is in one place (and yes, backed up on Beau, yeah that Beau, from DOH) and ready to go.

    Lastly, you can use this set up to watch a number of prime time shows like Lost, which are available on demand through the internet at the main channel websites and also Hulu.

    Great story!

    P.S. I’m a mom.

  20. Posted April 5, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    You. Are. Hilarious. And it must stop. If I wake the baby up because you make me laugh, I’m going to be pissed.

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