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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