June 25, 2008

‘Becoming Jane’ Becomes a Headache


It has taken us six months to learn how to navigate through all the on-screen controls for our cable TV and DVR. (In fact, it took us two months to learn not to say "DVR" when we meant "DVD").

And last week the cable company gives us our reward.

It changes the on-screen controls.

I don't recall receiving any notice from the cable company that they would be changed. All I know is, when we sit down after dinner to watch television, I click on the remote the way I always have and instead of a program, we get a bright blue screen filled with stuff we've never seen before.

"What did you do?" my wife asks. Whenever anything happens to the television, the computer or the toilet, she figures it's my fault. But she's wrong at least 10 percent of the time.

"Beats me," I admit. So I do what I always do in situations like this. I push buttons on the remote control randomly until something happens. Eventually, I arrive at a menu where the latest HBO movies are not "Weekend at Bernie's" or "My Cousin Vinny."

We agree to watch a movie called "Becoming Jane." A few minutes into the movie, I haven't understood a word of it. Part of that is because of my hearing problem and part is because of the language problem. The movie is in English. But it's English English. So I'm going to need closed captioning.

With the old on-screen controls, I knew how to access closed captioning. With the new ones, I haven't a clue. I do some more random clicking, which eventually produces an infomercial for real estate. I give up the closed captioning search and find my way back to the movie.

As nearly as I can read their lips, the movie is about Jane Austen and some guy named Tom. Or Jack. I'm still new at the lip- reading thing. In the first 109 minutes of the 112-minute movie, they meet, dislike each other, change their minds, fall in love, separate, reunite, agree to get married, agree not to get married and separate. In the 110th minute they come faceto-face for what we assume will be the final scene. But before either of them can say whatever they're going to say before the credits roll, there is a popping sound from the television and the screen goes blank.

"What did you do?" my wife demands.

"I didn't do anything," I protest.

"Give that thing to me."

She takes the remote, taps the same buttons I probably would have tapped and the movie returns.

From the beginning.

It takes five minutes to fast forward from the beginning of the movie to the point where it was just before it popped off the screen. Jane and Tom/Jack approach each other again. They gaze at each other. Jane opens her mouth. She says ...


"Now what did you do?" my wife demands as the screen goes blank again.

"You're holding the remote," I remind her.

We give up and go to bed. We may never know what Jane said. Or how long it's going to take me to figure out the new on-screen controls. I'm guessing six months.

Which should be at least a week before the cable company changes them again.

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