So many shiny things

By Mir
December 22, 2009

“Is there a way for me to write about this without sounding like a materialistic asshole?” I asked Otto.

“I dunno,” he answered.

“Maybe not,” I countered.

“Maybe,” he said.

I hate it when he won’t do my thinking for me. That’s totally why I hired married him.

Nevertheless, I have to take the chance here, because it is amusing. And far be it from me to pass up the chance to make fun of myself. So I am going to have to confess the entire sordid tale right from the beginning.

It starts, of course, with me being stupid.

The scene is Black Friday: I am up long before dawn, scoping out the deals and posting madly to Want Not. As for my own holiday shopping, though, I’m feeling very smug—I shop the sales all year long! No last-minute shopping for me! I’m good!

Except that then I came across an astounding deal on a Blu-ray player. A really, REALLY good deal. And Otto’s birthday was coming up, and I thought to myself, “Self, I bet Otto would be quite tickled to receive this. And it’s such a good price. I will just scoop it up for him. I am an awesome wife!”

Now, technically speaking, there’s an argument to be made here that we don’t really even NEED a Blu-ray player. We have the cheapest Netflix plan and I’m pretty sure we’ve had the same DVD from them sitting on top of our television for the last four months. Why watch movies where really, there are just so many terrible options on TV already? Plus, we’re now working our way through the West Wing DVDs, which at our current rate of speed will take about two years to complete. So was a Blu-ray player a NECESSITY or anything? No, of course not. But Otto likes this sort of thing. I thought I was being a totally awesome wife! He would be so surprised!

And then I was chatting online with one of Otto’s brothers, shortly after I’d ordered, and he pointed out that, uh, Blu-ray players only work with HDTVs. I knew that, right?

Uhhhhh. Sure. Sure I did. Ahem.

So I started looking around at televisions. And it was still Black Friday, you know, so there were some deals. In fact, there was an amazing deal on an HDTV that was a little bit larger than our current TV. And by “a little bit” I mean “twice the size of.” Ahem.

I waffled. I did. Because I never, ever buy stuff like this. I hardly ever splurge. And we’ve had multiple conversations about whether or not to go HD, and we always concluded that it was silly to replace a television that still works—we would simply replace it with something high-def once it died.

But in the end I went ahead and bought the TV. Maybe I got swept up in the deal, maybe I imagined what it might feel like to be the Giver Of Big Things to the kids for a change, whatever it was, I was now going to be the proud owner of both a big-ass TV and a Blu-ray player.

I crossed my fingers and hoped that delivery on the television would be slow. Because where was I going to hide something that size? As luck would (or wouldn’t) have it, I got a delivery notice the very next day.

So they brought the TV and I let them slide the box into my office (where it promptly took up half a wall). Monkey came home from school that day and I said the first thing that popped into my head when he exclaimed over the box: “It’s not ours! We’re holding it for Foodie. Because it’s a Christmas surprise.” By the time Chickadee got home, I was able to repeat the story easily, and about a week later it occurred to me to let Foodie know we were holding “her” TV. She’s a great sport, and the next time she came by the house she even threw in a “So I’ll have to talk to you about getting that out of here another time.” The kids totally bought it.

In the meantime, I’d of course ‘fessed up about the TV to Otto, but still managed to surprise him with the Blu-ray player on his birthday. He wasn’t upset about the TV, but did point out that, of course, we would need a new TV stand.

Oh. I’d forgotten about that.

So we found a stand online and ordered it, and I hoped it would ship kind of slowly, but—much like the TV—it seemed to show up almost instantly. Of course. I had the delivery guys slide the boxes into the garage behind a few things, and hoped that the kids didn’t notice.

Then Otto and I commenced the Unveiling Struggle, because Otto thought it would be all kinds of SUPER AWESOMENESS to just make the new entertainment setup APPEAR for Christmas morning, and I—perhaps the slightly more practical of the two of us—worried that we’d end up being up all night, to say nothing of the NOISE involved in putting together a glass/metal entertainment unit while children are supposed to be dreaming of sugar plums.

So, this past Saturday we told the kids we had some bad news for them. It turned out, Otto told them, that we wouldn’t be able to use the new Blu-ray player. It was very nice, and all, but would only work with an HDTV, and we don’t have one. He broke the news over pancakes and they looked rather glum, because Otto had been talking about having a big family movie night with the new machine. I waited a few seconds and then told them that if only the TV in the office was ours… oh, wait. IT IS!

They were a little excited.

I tried to give a moving little speech about how they’ve been so helpful with my Scholastic column this year and we really wanted to do something for the whole family, but they are truly their mother’s children, and pretty much just bounced around going SHINY! and BIG TV! So, tender moment: Fail.

It turns out to be a VERY good thing we decided not to wait until Christmas; Otto spent most of Saturday getting everything built and hooked up. He pulled everything away from the wall, configured the cords, and then pushed it back. And then we all spent some quality family time staring at the TV going, “Whoa. Dude, that is big.” And then we went and rented a Blu-ray disc and were all, “WHOA! I CAN SEE HER PORES FROM HERE!” Good fun.

Yesterday the tech came to swap out our cable box for an HD one, so we pulled everything away from the wall, configured the cords, and then pushed it back. And now I can see people’s pores on all kinds of channels. And so last night—after a full day—I started wrapping Christmas presents in front of the television. Otto then went and fetched a few boxes mailed to us with presents, and in doing so, discovered a birthday present from one of his brothers tucked in with the holiday gifts. He unwrapped it to find… a Roku.

So Otto pulled everything away from the wall, configured the cords, and then pushed it back and declared, “Well. I think we have everything now. We’re never leaving this room again, are we?”

“Nope!” I declared, while busily surfing all over Netflix to add stuff to our live-streaming queue.

I realize that the rest of the world has had all of this technology for forever. And also that I am a materialistic jerk to be so delighted to finally have something worthy of being called a home theater. Or maybe it’s just that I know that money can’t buy happiness, but I’m thinking it sure can buy enough toys to make Otto see my homebody point of view. Whatever.

And all this happened because I found a great deal on a Blu-ray player. So the moral of the story is… uhhh… hey, shiny! Shiny pores!


  1. Chris

    Life size Wii = awesome. Enjoy your new setup.

  2. Erin

    This does NOT make you sound materialistic at all! It’s a great story, and you all certainly deserve a big HDTV (we’ve got one and looooove it) and a Blu-Ray player and all the pore-viewing in the world. :)

  3. Heather

    My husband would be so jealous since he wants a big TV so badly – he doesn’t need the Blu Ray – just a big TV to watch his beloved Bulldogs since we live oh about 9 hours from God’s country as he puts it. He decided we needed a Wii and I figured out that he is hoping our daughter will break the TV and then he can have a new big shiny one. Enjoy!!

  4. Jen

    You’ll have to do a Roku review after playing with it for awhile. We thought about getting one, but didn’t see a whole ton of movies available on Netflix that we’d watch. Of course, we still have eleventy billion hours of DVRd TV to watch, so we’re not in any hurry. LOL

  5. Mom2Trplts

    I just hope you stop there – where we should have – because once we got the HDTV and the Blu-Ray, we thought built-ins would look nicer. Then all that shiny pore watching was uncomfortable on our old ratty sofa, so we got a sectional complete with recliners except I mismeasured and well, let’s just say it’s very easy to see shiny pores. Kind of like that first row of seats in the movie theater.

  6. tuney

    Not materialistic at all, Mir. You sound like… a kid at Christmas. :)

  7. Katie in MA

    Silly Mir! The moral of the story is that after this year, YOU ALL DESERVE IT! Because sometimes you just need to curl up on the couch and just *be* with each other.


  8. Jennifer

    I understand Mir. I was lucky enough to win a brand new 42 inch flat screen HDTV. Of course that meant I had to buy a shiny new stand for it. My son put it together last night and we got the t.v. hooked up and realized that now we needed to upgrade the cable to HD as well. So I called the cable provider and it would only be $10 more a month. But I was one step ahead of them. I’m going to return the cable modem I rent for $10 a month and buy my own and it won’t cost anything extra! But now I need new furniture to go with my great new t.v. stand.

  9. Megan

    Ah. Confession. I also got a fantastic wonderful deal on a Blu-Ray player which was destined to be a fantastic wonderful Christmas present for my parents due to the fact that their ancient disc player now gets all broody and emotional and won’t play things unless you take it out for dinner first and have a meaningful conversation and, you know, make it feel NEEDED.

    Then I realized:

    1. They don’t have an HDTV. And
    2. My mother hates and loathes new electronics with a wild passion and I was therefore planning on giving her a massive stress headache for Christmas (and for months after while she wailed about THE BUTTONS there are SO MANY BUTTONS!!) that WOULDN’T ACTUALLY WORK. Ahem.

    Which is how I found myself buying restaurant gift certificates last minute and… kinda… sorta… erm, keeping the shiny new Blu-Ray player for me. Yah. No guilt at all.

  10. Tracy

    That is so NOT right. I want Blu-Ray so BAD but I refuse to by another TV. I refuse, I really do. We have a 32″ that we bought 3 years ago. He picked it out. He swore that’s all he wanted. He got it and NOW, he wants a 52″ HDTV and I just refuse. BUT I want the Blu-Ray so I can see everyone’s pores. Really. I closed my eyes Black Friday because I didn’t want to know the great deals. lol

    Merry Christmas, Mir to you, Otto and those precious little ones!

  11. Dustin

    Our little exercise was similar, but we started with a new tv, ended up with a new tv, tv stand, and… a new living room set to sit and watch it on. Congratulations on your great deal! :)

  12. Heather

    Ooooh very shiny! Nice! As a poor student I shall just live vicariously through you for a little while, mmk? ;)

  13. steff


  14. Javamom

    We don’t have shiny new entertainment systems here…and my cell phone is a cell phone. Not a smart phone. Not an iphone. Just…plain. Old. Technology. Oh and we still have a VHS player. Does anyone still have those?

    That’s us. Plain.

  15. annette

    I can top that materialism story. But am too vain, I mean humble to show you up:)

  16. J from Ireland

    Haha, this makes me laugh so much. You ARE my husband, getting so excited with all these fancy techno stuff. Have loads of fun with your new toys!!

  17. Kendra II

    oh and let Otto know that that was his birthday AND christmas present from us… :)

  18. Jamie

    Woo hoo, what fun!

  19. sassymonkey

    We bought the big-ass tv last year in a Boxing Day sale, which actually started at 8pm Christmas Eve because nothing says Christmas Eve like staring at your in-laws computer chanting Load! Load! Load! (There may have been some site slowness issues…) We also promptly realized that also needed to buy a new tv stand. We also spent at lot of time going, “Um, that’s *really* big.” Because it is. Is is ridiculously large for the size of our living room. Then we had to get the HD box so he could watch hockey in HD. I got the fake husband the Blu-ray for his birthday this year. Maybe someday we’ll actually start watching movies.

  20. Miss Shell

    We made the leap a few years ago, going from a 24 inch TV to a 50 inch. Quite an adjustment. I used to joke that the neighbors could watch our TV. Now our TV just seems kind of…average. BTW, if you haven’t gotten rid of your old TV, you may want to hang on to it. We have found that some Wii games have a horrible delay when played on an HDTV. We had to go out and hunt up an “old” CRT television to hook up in our basement playroom.

  21. Mary Beth

    Reminds me of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books. If you give Otta a Blu-ray Player . .

  22. Mary Beth

    Otto, I meant.

  23. Jaime

    Enjoy it!! My dad did something similar a while back, and now every time we visit them I spend a LOT of time watching TV & marveling at all the shiny pores!

  24. frank

    You bought that Blu-ray player that was around $100, didnt you? I was thinking that might be hard even for YOU to resist. Of course by the time I hemmed and hawed and decided to get it, it was gone…. I snooze I lose…
    Hope you enjoy your new toys!

  25. Karen P

    We’ve also had multiple discussions about going with an HDTV. My take on it is if we buy one we might as well buy two because the dish guys have to come out and change everything over. But I am still thinking why replace tv’s that still work? I told my husband we should wait until one of them broke. He said when was the last time one of our tv’s stopped working? 10 years ago maybe? So still haven’t decided.

  26. dad

    To paraphrase an old proverb: He who plays with the most toys wins. Flaunt it!
    Now just enjoy all that fun and shinyness.

  27. Kate @ And Then I Was a Mom

    But isn’t it SO much fun to see all the pores? For me, I love trying to spot the pancake makeup on the attractive local news anchors. I mean, if they have to wear all that, then they can’t be that much better-looking than me in person, right? And if I have a glass of wine in me, I can also convince myself I see the outline of their girdles under their clothes. Hah–they’re fatter, too!

    Merry Christmas, btw.

  28. meghann

    We’re still in the stone age with our regular tv and dvd player.

    I kind of like it that way though, as once we go hdtv, we’ll have to completely rearrange our living room and everything.

  29. roberta

    i am sitting beside a new 46″ hdtv that is our joint present, that was totally free, along with a home theatre thingy,and no it won’t be hooked up until after Christmas, hubbs doesn’t believe in “early” christmas…lol…I’d have that sucker up and running now….oh well, we used hubby’s aeroplan miles, also used them last year to get a Nikon camera as a joint gift, he had a ton of miles, and as I am terrified of flying, we used them to get our gifts, also got a couple of digital frames for family….I love that kind of spending….lol

  30. Dawn

    Not materialistic at all! Why else do we work if not to buy toys? There’s that food and roof thing, but the toys, they are the icing on the cake of life.

    Although having said that… I have a 20-year old TV, a VCR and NO CABLE. If you listen carefully you can hear the little dinosaurs running in the wheel that powers the TV. And yet, I live.

    It’s not that I wouldn’t LIKE a home theatre system, it’s just that I need to leave the house to work and having shiny pores at my disposal in my own living room would pretty much negate me ever leaving the house again. And my computer plays DVDs and has a big (okay, not 42″ but it’ll do) screen, and I watch all my TV online, so there’s that.

    What’s that? Cheap? Now that you mention it…

  31. Leanne

    w00t! We have the HDTV – it becomes compulsory here soon, analogue is being phased out – the surround sound but no blue-ray. I’m saving up for a PS3! And all this is for me! Oh, but I have to share it with the Teen now that she’s finished school. Dangit. *joy for shiny new tech* :D

  32. ChristieNY

    ha, i scooped up the blu-ray frm 6pm for hubby’s birthday (dec 2) as well and we now have it hooked up to… a regular old tv. so it plays blu-ray discs but they look like regular dvds, no pores or anything! :(

    next black friday i’ll be looking for a shiny new tv (and stand ;)) for his bday. hopefully you’ll post one on wantnot for me to scoop up. enjoy your new movie room! ;)

  33. lizneust

    The best “acquisition avalanche” I know of is what happened with my parents. They got a new top of the line TV, and the TV stand looked shabby. The new TV stand made the couch look shabby. The new couch made the carpet look shabby. And the lighting was all wrong. And the paint was kind of old. The upshot was a $15k renovation of the entire room. Becuase the TV was new. (Although, the room was very tired and it does look awesome now.)

  34. Heather Cook

    That is awesome :) Though we still have the old regular tv and JUST got a hand-me-down TV stand and cabinet… so at least we finally don’t look like college students!

  35. Karate Mom

    I find myself standing in Sam’s, staring in wonder at the pores on the people in the movies on the HDTV’s they’re selling. It’s amazing!
    (FYI, Sam’s is like Costco, just in case they don’t have Sam’s waaaay over in Georgia)

  36. Kati

    Assuage your guilt by getting the Planet Earth series in Blu-Ray and watching them on your hi-def, big-ass TV. See? It’s for the children!

    This is the same logic I used when I bought all the Harry Potter books in hardcover for my son. See? It’s for my son, to get and keep him interested in reading! Uh, right after he learns how to read…being two at the time…

    But seriously, Planet Earth is just breathtaking in hi-def. And, for the most part, animals do not have visible pores! Even in closeup!

  37. Emily

    Ha ha! My dad finally got fed up that his poor grandchildren were being forced to watch a little 24 inch old school tv that we got a big box of our own from Santa Grandpa yesterday. My husband danced around about how shiny and big it was and I promptly went to the store for a table large enough to fit it and we proceeded to stay up until midnight getting it all set up. This story felt like my life…except for the finding good deals part. I’m still way too cheap to spring for something like this. Thank goodness for Grandpa!!

  38. Lady M

    Now you need some fuzzy red folding seats for your theater!

  39. Paula / Hamburg

    Be careful to not becoming dizzy when you watch films and look from the left to the right like in tennis courts.
    After we had bought our big screen, at the beginning we had to limit watching and take a few headache pills afterwards, but meanwhile we’ve got used to it and it’s great fun!

    Merry Christmas

  40. Brigitte

    Not the WHOLE rest of the world! We’re still among the waiting-for-the-old, working-perfectly-well, TV-to-die contingent.

    And Javamom, we still also have our cassette player and record player! Now, anyone out there with Beta VHS? 8-track player? ;-)

  41. Sue @ Laundry for Six

    I am totally not into having the latest and greatest electronics, but HDTV? Totally worth it. I about fell on the floor the first time I watched one. And then I came home and convinced my husband that our 25 year old tv was not going to work when all the signals went digital. Heh.

  42. Chuck

    Sounds like a fun Christmas present to me! Doesn’t seem too materialistic either…all your readers know you’d never buy stuff like this if you couldn’t afford it. Enjoy your shiny new viewing experience!

  43. Nicki

    Yeah, the pretty people are a lot less intimidating on HD. Makes me feel soooo much better.

  44. Lisa

    I remember you posting an especially good Blu-Ray deal on Want Not back on Black Friday. Is that where you got it? I must say, I ordered one as well.

  45. Rita Arens

    I am so not showing this post to Beloved. We are still rocking a nonHD, nonflatscreen behomoth from 1999. He is DYING for what you describe. I’ll all MEH, but I bet I won’t be when we finally cave. Enjoy your television! Wallow in it!

  46. Lucinda

    We have the HD tv (because hubby really wanted one–who knew 10 year anniversary was technology?) but it doesn’t matter because we don’t have blu-ray and we won’t pay the extra for HDTV with our satelite. How sad is that? But we do like the big screen (once it stopped giving me headaches). God I sound old. Enjoy your shiny new things.

  47. bad penguin

    We just got an HDTV recently too. It really is nice, isn’t it? We did it in reverse though, with my husband deciding that since we had the TV, we really needed to get a Blu-Ray too. The big pores are a little scary, but HD nature shows look fantastic.

  48. Wendy 2

    We don’t have an HDTV yet, and probably won’t for quite a while. We haven’t purchased a TV in years, all of ours are hand me downs from when my brother and parents went HD. I am currently extremely excited just to have my new cell phone with unlimited texting, I am almost as bad as my 13 year old daughter with it.

  49. Ani

    You’re good enough,you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, you deserve to have something nice. ‘Nuff said.


  50. Sheila

    …because, just because, a little bug went ka- CHOO!

  51. Megan

    Exciting! and with kids entering the teen years a home theatre seems like a smart move as
    a) kids more likely to want to hang out and watch movies with you guys (family time!)
    b) kids more likely to want to invite their friends over to watch stuff (which means you can keep an eye on what they are doing… in a subtle way).

  52. Kathleen

    Congrats!!! Now all you need is Surround Sound speakers & you will NEVER leave that room ;-).

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